Making it deadly

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Naimat Khan

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KARACHI: Terrorists in Pakistan do not rely on industrial grade bombs. Instead, to target both law enforcers and ordinary civilians, they have relied on their own specialized cadres to make different kinds of bombs. On April 12, 2016, Karachi Police’s Counter Terror Department unearthed a facility used to make bombs in the Gadap town. In the raid one bomb maker named Muhammad Mujtaba aka Rehan was eliminated. One of his accomplices, named Abdul Saboor aka Hamad was killed, whereas anther, named Muhammad Murtaza, was arrested. Police also recovered 80 kg of explosive material, circuits, ball bearings, bottle bombs, tennis ball bombs, bomb manufacturing material, laptop, memory cards, and USBs.

Raja Umar Khattab, senior counter terrorism official who led the raid, told this scribe that the arrested Muhammad Murtaza aka Abu Huraira claims that the dead Rehan was the last expert bomb maker alive in the city. Rehan was the protege of Hashim aka Babu, a master bomb marker with 14 years of experience, especially car bombs. Babu was killed in a gunfight with the police in April 2015.

After Babu – who had put together the bomb manufacturing setup in Gadap town and supplied explosive devices to one Abdus Salam Sindhi of Liaquatabad – was killed, the Counter Terror Department’s assessment was that it had set back AQIS’s bomb making capability significantly. “After that shoot out, I thought that this was it. As I had extensively worked on hunting the bomb makers and dented all three groups – the brainwashers, the hit-men and bomb makers – of Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), I believed that no locally made lethal weapon will be used by terrorists, at least for next couple of years,” Khattab told The Frontier Post.

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But six months later, on October 17, 2016, the police were surprised when terrorists hurled hand grenades at an Imambargah in Liaquatabad killing one child and leaving several women hurt. Media reported it as cracker blast. “For a while I believed that my assessment after April had been wrong,” Khattab told and added “but when we arrested Ishaq Booby and Asim Capri, accused of Amjad Sabri’s murder, they disclosed that they had hit the Shia Majlis with grenade having ball bearing wrapped to it”.

“The terrorists had wrapped ball bearings with it for ensuring it results maximum fatalities.” It was clear to Khattab then that Taliban and AQIS were innovating around their constraints.

In March 2013, the BBC Urdu first reported terrorists – normally knowing for using Russian made hand grenades and smoke grenades – were using the tennis ball bomb. The tennis ball bomb was an invention of the Taliban, according to the Police, working like a small bomb or cracker but had a bigger sound impact. Taliban increased its lethality by adding ball bearings of 2mm and nails. Such tennis ball bombs were made at the factory in Gadap Town.

The loss of the bomb making facility at Gadap is likely to hurt the Taliban as it comes on the back of sustained counter terror efforts by the law enforcement agencies.

“We have always known the TTP uses local bomb making factories, but with the success of Zarb-e-Azb, we know that their capabilities have been decimated,” according to Khalid Muhammad, Director General – CommandEleve, adding, “We also know that they have ‘imported’ bomb makers from AQAP and IS Khorasan to give them a more logistic advantage in quick hit attacks with IEDs, much like the tennis ball or shoe bomb”.

Muhammad is of the view that the security agencies must shut down capabilities of terrorists comprehensively, which they are currently doing.

“Second, we must get ahead of their technology by understanding what technology these groups have used in other battle spaces like Iraq and Syria,” he concludes.

They are for maximum terrorism, whether inventing new or adding more lethality to the factory-made, the terrorists will continue their search for deadly weapons to use, said another analyst.

Published in The Frontier Post 

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Affluent Afghans get Pakistani IDs as poor Pashtuns suffer

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KARACHI: For the right price, any Afghan can obtain Pakistani nationality. In fact, hundreds of affluent Afghans have managed to obtain Pakistani IDs in exchange for handsome sums paid to National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) officials, The Frontier Post has learnt.

While poor Afghan refugees and ethnic Pakistani Pashtuns take the hit in the wake of lapses by Nadra in granting CNICs – as was the case with the late Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s citizenship – those with enough money can easily obtain CNICs by greasing the right palms.

In 2012, Afghan business tycoon Abdul Rehman Alokozay’s family obtained over 150 computerized national identity cards (CNICs) against a payment of Rs20 million to NADRA officials close to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

“It’s not the only well-off Afghan family enjoying nationality of its neighboring country, however, a big one, which is trading inside this country with Pakistani identity,” a source said. Alokozay Group of Companies (AGC), an Afghani conglomerate with its headquarters in Dubai, has presence in over 40 countries with distribution network in Middle East, Central Asia, Asia, Europe, Africa and North America.

“From the highly successful Alokozay Tea to the flourishing Alokozay Cooking Oils, Tissues, Evaporated Milk, Coffee, Biscuits, 3in1 Tea & Coffee, Sugar, Detergent Powder, Wet Wipes, Baby Diapers, Pasta, Corn Flakes, Engine Oil, Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Hand wash, Bar Soap, Toothpaste, Body lotion, Mouthwash and many more premium products, Alokozay continues to expand its horizon”, the website of company reads.

The group’s ABCo in Kabul, Afghanistan is the bottling and distribution plant of the entire range of carbonated Soft drinks, Energy drink, Juices & Water.

“PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, today signed an Exclusive Bottling Appointment (EBA) with the Alokozay Group of Companies to manufacture and distribute a broad range of PepsiCo beverages in Afghanistan. The beverages will be produced at ABCO (Alokozay Beverages Company), Alokozay’s beverage bottling plant, which will be set up in Kabul with an initial investment of US$ 60 million,” the PepsiCo’s official website announced on April 20, 2011.

Chairman of the group is Abdul Rehman Alokozay, whereas Jalil Alokozay is its Chief Executive Officer and managing director, who is also CEO of the Alokozay International Ltd based in Mississauga, Ontario L5C 2T1, Canada.

The amount, Nadra official, said, was paid by Abdul Waris Alokozay, Lahore based son of the Afghan business tycoon. Unlike his father Abdul Rehman Alokozay and brother Jalil Alokozay, Waris doesn’t carry the family name as he is Chief Executive Officer of Alokozay International (Pvt.) Limited, situated at Suite No 305, 3rd Floor, Eden Tower, Main Boulevard Gulberg III, Lahore Pakistan.

Besides, company in Lahore, the family has several restaurants on the motorways across, Pakistan. Korean made cigarettes Kent, which are sold in abundance in Pakistan, are also smuggled into Pakistan by this same family whereas FBR has been unable to find who to serve the notice with, a source in the Federal Board of Revenue told.

According to Nadra official, the family had shown themselves permanent residents of Mohmand Agency while obtaining Pakistani CNICs. However, the tribe Alokozay has never lived on Pakistani side of the Durand line Border.

The Alokozay, a sub-tribe of the Abdali Pashtuns of Afghanistan, are found primarily in Helmand, Kandahar, Kabul, Laghman, Kunar Sarkani District and Herat provinces in Afghanistan, and form the majority of the population in the Sangin District. “Jaldak, which is located 110 km northeast of Kandahar, is the original domicile of the Alokozay tribe,” according to “The hidden Treasure” (Pata Khazana), a biography of Pashtoon poets Mohammad Hothek.

Few years back, Abdul Rehman Alokozay was kidnapped in Pakistan. “The family secured his release by paying 25 million to the kidnappers” a source close to the family reveals.

A news published in this newspaper in 2012 had reported the issuance of Fake IDs after which the issue was taken up by Standing committee of the National Assembly but it never came to conclusion due to influence of the family in Pakistan’s political circles.

“Such examples of wealthy Afghans are in abundance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. These Afghans are not only rich in term of wealth but they are also very well connected with both the Afghan government and the Taliban,” a source said.

The reason why these Pakistan based rich Afghans keep good relations with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is because Taliban protect their crops back in Afghanistan – in most cases that of opium – and they help them with protecting their business interests in Pakistan as well, a Pashtun nationalist leader from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa says.

“As they buy Pakistani identity with their wealth, the Pashtuns of Pakistan are humiliated in Punjab and Sindh to get their CNICs,” he adds.

Published in The Frontier Post on Jun 1, 2016

KARACHI: For the right price, any Afghan can obtain Pakistani nationality. In fact, hundreds of affluent Afghans have managed to obtain Pakistani IDs in exchange for handsome sums paid to National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) officials, The Frontier Post has learnt.

While poor Afghan refugees and ethnic Pakistani Pashtuns take the hit in the wake of lapses by Nadra in granting CNICs – as was the case with the late Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s citizenship – those with enough money can easily obtain CNICs by greasing the right palms.

In 2012, Afghan business tycoon Abdul Rehman Alokozay’s family obtained over 150 computerized national identity cards (CNICs) against a payment of Rs20 million to NADRA officials close to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

“It’s not the only well-off Afghan family enjoying nationality of its neighboring country, however, a big one, which is trading inside this country with Pakistani identity,” a source said. Alokozay Group of Companies (AGC), an Afghani conglomerate with its headquarters in Dubai, has presence in over 40 countries with distribution network in Middle East, Central Asia, Asia, Europe, Africa and North America.

“From the highly successful Alokozay Tea to the flourishing Alokozay Cooking Oils, Tissues, Evaporated Milk, Coffee, Biscuits, 3in1 Tea & Coffee, Sugar, Detergent Powder, Wet Wipes, Baby Diapers, Pasta, Corn Flakes, Engine Oil, Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Hand wash, Bar Soap, Toothpaste, Body lotion, Mouthwash and many more premium products, Alokozay continues to expand its horizon”, the website of company reads.

The group’s ABCo in Kabul, Afghanistan is the bottling and distribution plant of the entire range of carbonated Soft drinks, Energy drink, Juices & Water.

“PepsiCo, one of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, today signed an Exclusive Bottling Appointment (EBA) with the Alokozay Group of Companies to manufacture and distribute a broad range of PepsiCo beverages in Afghanistan. The beverages will be produced at ABCO (Alokozay Beverages Company), Alokozay’s beverage bottling plant, which will be set up in Kabul with an initial investment of US$ 60 million,” the PepsiCo’s official website announced on April 20, 2011.

Chairman of the group is Abdul Rehman Alokozay, whereas Jalil Alokozay is its Chief Executive Officer and managing director, who is also CEO of the Alokozay International Ltd based in Mississauga, Ontario L5C 2T1, Canada.

The amount, Nadra official, said, was paid by Abdul Waris Alokozay, Lahore based son of the Afghan business tycoon. Unlike his father Abdul Rehman Alokozay and brother Jalil Alokozay, Waris doesn’t carry the family name as he is Chief Executive Officer of Alokozay International (Pvt.) Limited, situated at Suite No 305, 3rd Floor, Eden Tower, Main Boulevard Gulberg III, Lahore Pakistan.

Besides, company in Lahore, the family has several restaurants on the motorways across, Pakistan. Korean made cigarettes Kent, which are sold in abundance in Pakistan, are also smuggled into Pakistan by this same family whereas FBR has been unable to find who to serve the notice with, a source in the Federal Board of Revenue told.

According to Nadra official, the family had shown themselves permanent residents of Mohmand Agency while obtaining Pakistani CNICs. However, the tribe Alokozay has never lived on Pakistani side of the Durand line Border.

The Alokozay, a sub-tribe of the Abdali Pashtuns of Afghanistan, are found primarily in Helmand, Kandahar, Kabul, Laghman, Kunar Sarkani District and Herat provinces in Afghanistan, and form the majority of the population in the Sangin District. “Jaldak, which is located 110 km northeast of Kandahar, is the original domicile of the Alokozay tribe,” according to “The hidden Treasure” (Pata Khazana), a biography of Pashtoon poets Mohammad Hothek.

Few years back, Abdul Rehman Alokozay was kidnapped in Pakistan. “The family secured his release by paying 25 million to the kidnappers” a source close to the family reveals.

A news published in this newspaper in 2012 had reported the issuance of Fake IDs after which the issue was taken up by Standing committee of the National Assembly but it never came to conclusion due to influence of the family in Pakistan’s political circles.

“Such examples of wealthy Afghans are in abundance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. These Afghans are not only rich in term of wealth but they are also very well connected with both the Afghan government and the Taliban,” a source said.

The reason why these Pakistan based rich Afghans keep good relations with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is because Taliban protect their crops back in Afghanistan – in most cases that of opium – and they help them with protecting their business interests in Pakistan as well, a Pashtun nationalist leader from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa says.

“As they buy Pakistani identity with their wealth, the Pashtuns of Pakistan are humiliated in Punjab and Sindh to get their CNICs,” he adds.

Published in The Frontier Post on June 1, 2016

 

 

Counter-terror experts give no credence to LEJ-A claim of Quetta police academy assault

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Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Counter-terrorism experts have rejected Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) Al-Almi’s claim of carrying out the Quetta police training academy attack, saying the banned outfit’s assertion meant for a mere re-branding.

The claim by Al-Almi, an offshoot of the LeJ – a Sunni sectarian outfit with its origins in Punjab – has not been established so far, says Raja Umar Khattab, a senior counter-terrorism official in Karachi, revealing that the claim by Afghanistan-based IS-Khurasan could be substantiated through evidences the outfit has provided with its claim on Tuesday. “Both organisations are, however, being operated from Afghanistan currently.”

Over 60 police cadets were killed when three heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed the police training centre on the outskirt of the capital city of Balochistan on October 24.

Interestingly, both the proscribed groups, Islamic State and Al-Almi, claimed responsibility with the latter saying it was assisting the Khurasan branch of the Middle Eastern terrorist organisation. IG Frontier Corps Major-General Sher Afgun said calls intercepted between the attackers and their handlers suggested they were from the LeJ.

“We came to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan,” Afgun told reporters, adding, “The Al-Alami faction of LeJ was behind the attack.”

Read More: Elimination of Malik Ishaq no fatal blow to sectarian killings

The Islamic State’s Amaq news agency published the claim of responsibility, saying three IS fighters “used machine guns and grenades, and then blew up their explosive vests in the crowd”. A teenage attacker killed by security forces can be seen in IS media release, supporting the IS-Khurran’s claim.

“The calls may definitely be from Afghanistan as both the IS and LeJ Al-Almi are being operated from other side of the border,” the police official said. “Though LeJ and Al-Almi claimed the responsibility, the one IS-Khurasan with evidently true claim hasn’t mentioned any assistance from the sectarian outfit,” Khattab told The Frontier Post.

This is not the first terror act with multiple claims. In August, Quetta hospital was attacked that left 70 people, mostly lawyers, dead was claimed by the IS, and also by the banned Pakistani Taliban faction, Jamaatur Ahrar. However, according to Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri, India’s premier spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was involved in the attack.

Though, Al-Alami earlier claimed responsibility for the targeted assassinations of four women of the Hazara Shia community in the provincial capital and the attack on a Shia Imambargah in Karachi, experts believe that the trend of attacking Shia community and law enforcement agencies by IS has emerged, without any role of the LeJ.

“Currently, several terrorist outfits, including IS, AQIS and TTP are found involved in sectarian-driven bloodletting,” the official said.

According to the police official, LeJ has the capability of target killing but it doesn’t seem to be capable of carrying out major terror attacks. “Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was formed in 2004 by Abid Mehsud, a mastermind of Hasan Turabi murder, but the group has never excelled.”

Currently, Yousuf Mansoor is running the organisation from Afghanistan whereas its Sindh chapter’s head, Safdar alias Abu Sufian, who is also the outfit’s spokesperson, is admitting most of the terror acts to remain in the news for attracting youths with militant and sectarian tendencies.

“The organisation’s claims haven’t been verified,” Khattab told this scribe, adding that the group has been unable to establish its own camp inside Pakistan or Afghanistan and has been sending its members to camps of other terrorist outfits.

According to security experts, the Al-Alami’s mother organisation, LeJ, has almost become dysfunctional after two of its most notorious leaders, i.e. Malik Ishaq, the chief of the terror outfit, and Usman Saifullah Kurd, the head of its Balochistan chapter, were killed in encounters with law enforcers.

Moreover, Hafiz Naeem Bukhari, the head of LeJ’s Karachi chapter; Asif Chotu, the commander from southern Punjab, and Qari Ramzan Mengal, the Quetta-chapter head, are in jail.

Read More: Writing on the wall

Reports suggested that the killings and arrests of its top leadership have hampered LeJ’s operational capabilities and dented its organisational infrastructure. “LeJ has never claimed responsibility,” the official added.

Meanwhile, Balochistan government on Wednesday formed an investigation team to probe into the Quetta carnage. “The support of Punjab’s forensic agency will also be sought,” Deputy IG Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema said. The team will visit the incident cite, speak to survivors and present its report soon, added Cheema.

Published in The Frontier Post

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 

HuT forms militant wing

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By: Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Hizb-ut-Tahrir – a global movement for the establishment of worldwide Caliphate – has formed a militant wing in Pakistan, sources said.

According credible sources, the group has formed a separate wing for carrying out terrorist attacks. A police official, on the condition of anonymity, told this scribe that detained members of the group have made this startling revelation.

The wing was formed after an unannounced crackdown against the group’s members, who were unhappy with the group narratives of bringing change through ‘positive’ impact from within the power corridors.

“It’s unclear whether the militant wing of HuT is enjoying the endorsement from its international leadership or it’s locally formed. It’s also not clear whether the wing has been formed by some disgruntled leaders and workers without local approval as well but they [ detained suspects] have told interrogators a group has opted for change through guns”, source told.

“Law enforcement agencies are trying to substantiate the claim of two parallel organizations with Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which strives for ‘change through mind’ without resorting to violence,” source said.

The claim couldn’t be verified from the HT due to ban on coverage of proscribed organizations in Pakistan. However, the development has come to fore when according to sources a joint intelligence work between Pakistan and UK is supposed to be kicked off. Some believe that intelligence agencies of both countries are already working on averting terrorism threat from the group, which is legitimate for UK but banned in Pakistan.

A report published in this daily last month stated the group’s member were exposed to militants organization, including Islamic State (IS) to join their ranks.

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

Also read: For the revival of the caliphate

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.

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.

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 last 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.

“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.

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.”

 

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.