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American journalist challenges US account of bin Laden’s ‘fairy tale’ end

Obama administration, top Pakistani generals ‘assassinated’ Osama bin Laden in Pakistan under plan, claims Seymour Hersh

This still image from video released 7 May, 2011 by the US Department of Defence (DoD) shows al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden

LONDON An American investigative journalist has revealed that the Obama administration and top Pakistani army generals “assassinated” Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad in May 2011 under a mutually-agreed plan.

In a report published on the London Review of Books website on Sunday, Seymour Hersh claimed that bin Laden had in fact been held captive by the Pakistan’s military intelligence service, ISI, since 2006 until his death in 2011.

Hersh claimed that the US Navy Seals had not engaged in any supposed heroic firefight to kill the al-Qaeda leader, but in fact, bin Laden was believed to be unarmed and was likely an old cripple when he was shot dead.

Also, the US intelligence agencies CIA and NSA did not track down bin Laden through his supposed couriers during months of painstaking work, but in fact, a former Pakistani intelligence service official had tipped off a US spy agency about the al-Qaeda leader’s presence in Pakistan in exchange for millions of dollars of bounty money.

Moreover, then Pakistan army chief General Kayani and Pakistan ISI chief General Pasha allegedly agreed to the Abbottabad raid so that the military aid programme to Pakistan continued.

“It didn’t take long to get the co-operation we needed, because the Pakistanis wanted to ensure the continued release of American military aid, a good percentage of which was anti-terrorism funding that finances personal security, such as bullet-proof limousines, security guards and housing for the ISI leadership,” Hersh quotes a retired official as saying in his piece.

Hersh said that his source added that “there were also under-the-table personal ‘incentives’ that were financed by off-the-books Pentagon contingency funds. ‘The intelligence community knew what the Pakistanis needed to agree – there was the carrot. And they chose the carrot. It was a win-win.'”

The report noted that “the White House still maintains that the mission was an all-American affair,” a claim Hersh said was a massive lie.

“The White House’s story might have been written by Lewis Carroll [author of Alice in Wonderland],” he said. “Would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town 40 miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live and command al-Qaida’s operations?” the report said.

Moreover, it said that bin Laden was not buried at sea as US officials had claimed, but was most likely buried somewhere in Afghanistan.

The “most blatant lie,” Hersh told CNN, was that “Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders – Kayani and Pasha – were never informed in advance of the US raid on the bin Laden compound.”

The White House dismissed the report, arguing that it was not alone “to observe that the story is riddled with inaccuracies and outright falsehoods. The former deputy director of the CIA, Mike Morell, has said that every sentence was wrong,” spokesman Josh Earnest said during the press briefing.

Hersh has won many awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, five George Polk Awards, two National Magazine Awards, and many other prizes for his investigative work.

He has also been criticised, however, for his use of anonymous sources.

In 1969, he won fame by exposing a massacre perpetrated by US troops in the Vietnamese village of My Lai that killed between 300 and 500 unarmed civilians.

(Source / 13.05.2015)

1,000 Shiites Killed in 2 years in Pakistan

43 Shiites killed as gunmen attack bus in Karachi

43 Shiites killed as gunmen attack bus in Karachi
Around 1,000 Shiites have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, with many of the attacks claimed by the hardline Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) who view them as heretics.

At least 43 Shiite Muslims were killed and 13 wounded when gunmen opened fire on their bus in Karachi Wednesday, Pakistani police said, in the second deadliest attack on the minority this year.

Pakistan has seen a rising tide of sectarian violence in recent years, particularly against Shiites who make up around 20 percent of the country’s predominantly Muslim population of 200 million.

“According to the initial information which we have received from hospitals, 43 people have been killed
“Six terrorists came on three motorcycles, they entered the bus and began firing indiscriminately. They used 9mm pistols and all those killed and injured were hit by the 9mm pistols,” he said.

A senior member of the Ismaili National Council, a community group that represents the Ismaili branch of Shiites in Pakistan, placed the toll at at least 41.

Television images from the scene showed a large pink bus that had been stained by blood in some parts, while anxious relatives rushed to visit the wounded in nearby hospitals.

It was the worst anti-Shiite attack since January 30, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in the southern Shikarpur district, killing 61.

Anti-Shiite attacks have been increasing in recent years in Karachi and also in the southwestern city of Quetta, the northwestern area of Parachinar and the far northeastern town of Gilgit.

Around 1,000 Shiites have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, with many of the attacks claimed by the hardline Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) who view them as heretics.

Ismaili Shiites are known for their progressive Islamic views. Their spiritual leader Prince Karim Aga Khan is a globally renowned philanthropist and business magnate.

The attack comes as Pakistan steps up its efforts against militants following a Taliban massacre of 150 people, mainly children, in a school in Peshawar last year.

In the aftermath the government ended a six-year moratorium on executions, passed legislation to create military courts for terrorism cases, and pledged to crack down on all militant groups.

Karachi, a sprawling city of roughly 20 million, has long had a reputation for high crime rates as well as ethnic, political and sectarian violence.

But the violence has significantly fallen since 2013 after police and paramilitary rangers launched a crackdown that rights activists say has led to extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals and militants.

(Source / 13.05.2015)

Imam Speaks Out In Outrage Over Pakistan Church Attack

By Qari Muhammad Asim

Senior Imam – Makkah Mosque, Leeds

It is extremely revolting and shocking that 15 people have been killed and over 80 people injured on Sunday 15 March in violent attacks in Lahore, Pakistan. Twin blasts rocked the Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church in Lahore’s while people were attending the Sundays mass. An offshoot of the Pakistan Taliban, calling itself Jamatul Ahrar, has said it carried out the attack. This is the same group that had claimed responsibility for the Peshawar attack on school children.

Imam of Makkah Mosque, Qari Asim, MBE unequivocally condemned such targeted attacks on people of other faiths. “The Terrorists are killing people indiscriminately – their only aim is to cause chaos, devastation and bloodshed. Such violent actions are far removed from the teachings of Islam and the practice of the Prophet of Islam (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him).”

“Faith minorities living in Muslim countries must enjoy safety and security unconditionally. Islam has issued severe warnings to those who infringe rights of minorities. The sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) urging Muslims to protect the rights of faith minorities should be enough for people and government in Pakistan to defend the rights of minorities against the terrorists, who do not represent any faith.”

Imam Qari Asim continued: “These terrorists must be brought to justice. But that is not enough, we must all work harder to ensure that breeding grounds of such terrorists, ideological and monetary sponsors of such extremists are exposed and dealt with according to Islamic law and Pakistani laws. “It is high time faith that leaders ensure that people within their own tradition respect people from other faith traditions.”

“We urge people of all faiths and no faith to remain united and defend each other’s rights and liberties. We should not let the terrorists defeat the objective of achieving peace and harmony in the world.”, said Qari Asim MBE

Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected by such brutal attacks.

(Source / 19.04.2015)

The ‘Islamic State’ arrives in Pakistan

isil_3027247bSince the beginning of 2015 Pakistan’s press, both printed and electronic, together with independent blogs, have been reporting with increasing frequency the spread of the Islamic State’s (IS) influence on Pakistani territory. Both the intelligence services of the USA and Canada were forced to admit this in February and March. Nick Rasmussen, the head of the US National Counterterrorism Centre, was compelled to touch on the problem when providing testimony at a Congressional hearing.

There is much fertile ground in Pakistan for IS representatives: according to various reports there are around 50 radical Sunni groups in the country which are close to IS in both spirit and intention. Included amongst these groups that help comprise the Taliban in Pakistan are the odious Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and in particular Tehrik-E Taliban (TTP). These groups, together with a host of other radical organisations, are fighting to turn Pakistan into a Sunni theocratic state which would function solely under Sharia law. IS is trying to create the same kind of state in Syria and Iraq. By using the aspirations of the Pakistani radicals, IS emissaries are hoping to lay the groundwork to penetrate into Pakistan (as well trying to start a similar process in Afghanistan) and to then expand into the Iranian province of Khorasan, the countries of Central Asia, and the Xianjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.

The success of IS recruiters is reflected by the number of Pakistani Islamists who have changed sides and joined the Islamic State. The group Tehrik-e-Khilafat (linked to the Taliban) have announced that detachments of fighters from the Momand,Orakzai, Khyber, and Bajaur agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan have declared their adherence to the goals as laid out by the leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Judging by social media correspondence and on the blogs and sites of various Jihadi organisations, around 1.5 thousand militants from the groups named above are fighting for IS in Syria and Iraq. What’s more leaders of radical groups in Pakistan are prepared to send hundreds of additional militants to fight for the Islamic State’s cause.

The growth in the attractiveness of the Islamic State for Pakistani Islamists is facilitated by the skilful propaganda dispersed by IS ideologues, (which appears to be more effective than the ageing Taliban leaders, especially amongst the young), by the successes of Jihadist units in Syria and Iraq, and also by the Islamic State’s sheer spending power. The Islamic State’s ranks are also being significantly increased by young and unemployed people in Pakistan, the majority of whom come from poor families. They are radicalised in numerous madrasas and after their studies they go on to fill the ranks of armed Islamist units. Pakistan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs calculates that out of 24 thousand madrasas, roughly 10% of them are preparing ideologically motivated fighters.

At the same time, despite the support that Pakistani radicals have for the Islamic State, there are some differences between them and the Jihadists from IS. In particular this difference is noticeable when talking who is considered the leader of the movement by each side. Pakistani Islamists still defer to the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, Emir of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, thus rejecting any claims to leadership of the Islamic caliphate by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The activities of IS represent a real threat to the security of Pakistan. It is thanks to the Pakistani media, and its efforts to alert the international community, that we now know about the recruitment of several thousand volunteers by Jihadi recruiters, flying the IS flag, in the tribal agency of Kurram.

According to experts at the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies it is most likely that the Islamic State, relying on its supporters, is planning to set up bases in Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan. The Islamic State’s intentions in this regard are bad news for Islamabad. An additional influx of trained fighters from Syria and Iraq will seriously undermine any efforts to preserve the internal security of the country.

(Source / 21.03.2015)


Silent genocide in Pakistan

Pakistani police and volunteers gather evidence following a bomb attack at a Shia mosque in Shikarpur in Sindh Province, some 470 kilometers north of Karachi, January 30, 2015. (© AFP)

Pakistani police and volunteers gather evidence following a bomb attack at a Shia mosque in Shikarpur in Sindh Province, some 470 kilometers north of Karachi, January 30, 2015

‘The area is scattered with blood and flesh and it smells of burnt meat, people are screaming at each other… it is chaos.’

That is an eye-witness description of the aftermath of the latest attack on Shias in Pakistan.

Who? How? Why?

Jundullah, the Takfiri terror group (which does not accept Shias as Muslim), which supports the ISIL, is associated with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (which itself, at the end of 2014, attacked a school in Peshawar, killing hundreds of children), and has carried out a number of terror attacks in Iran, claimed responsibility for the attack on a Shia mosque located in Shikarpur, Sindh.

In case there was any doubt as to the goal, Jundullah’s spokesman confirmed: “Our target was the Shia community… They are our enemies.”

People rushed to the scene to dig out the survivors trapped under the roof that collapsed in the blast. Footage showed chaotic rescue scenes as people piled the wounded onto cars, motorbikes and rickshaws to take them for treatment. A local resident “felt the earth move beneath my feet” as he prayed at another mosque around 1.5 kilometers away. A police official said the blast was probably caused by an explosive device and some were quoted as saying they saw a man wearing an explosive vest.

It is reported that the bomber approached after Friday prayers, and complained he was sick. After he was given medicine from a dispensary inside the mosque, he blew himself up. Shikarpur’s Inspector General of Police admitted that the bomber had exploited the kindness of his targets to get inside the mosque and kill them.

Politicians’ reaction

The information minister insisted the blast did not occur because of a security lapse, saying, “The entire Pakistan is under threat and militants attack wherever they find a soft target but the blast did not occur because of a security lapse; security was present at the site.” But, according to a senior citizen, several threats were brought to the government’s attention, including a letter warning the mosque and its neighbors to only “fly the flag of the Taliban,” or else. The government, according to the citizen, didn’t provide security and didn’t take steps to prevent the terrorist attack.

Opposition politician Imran Khan said the attack was an indication that the government’s campaign was not working. It had been “given full support to act against all terrorist groups but has failed.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the bomb blast, and extended condolences to the bereaved families and asked the concerned authorities to provide the best medical treatment to the injured. A PM House statement said that the prime minister had sought a report into the incident.

The PM said that the government was committed to eradicating the menace of terrorism and extremism from Pakistan. He said that steps were being taken to improve the capacity of law enforcement agencies so that they could better cope with such challenges. The government has pledged to crack down on all militant groups, reintroduce the death penalty, set up military courts to speed convictions and widen its military campaign in the lawless tribal areas.

The genocide of Shias

This is the second attack on a Shia Muslim mosque in Pakistan this month. On January 10, many were killed and injured following a blast in a mosque in Chittian Hattian in Rawalpindi, in Punjab province (See here, and here.)

Attacks on Shia targets are common in Karachi but are fairly new in the interior of Sindh Province. The Friday incident is reportedly the fifth attack of a sectarian nature in the province’s interior since 2010.

Shias make up about a fifth of Pakistan’s population of around 180 million. More than 800 Shias have been killed in attacks since the beginning of 2012, according to Human Rights Watch, though that number is likely higher in reality.

Beyond the rhetoric

Pakistan’s religious minorities say the government is doing little to alleviate their daily struggle against humiliation, discrimination and often violence.

The attack has proven the federal and provincial governments’ failure in dealing with the issue of terrorism. One may also ask the Pakistani army and its various agencies why terrorists are able to continue their massacre of Shias and other minorities under their watch.

Reactions on social media varied with some saying, ‘Governance is in the hand of most incompetent Political Elite that is more interested in safeguarding its Political Interest,’ and in the immediate aftermath, ‘Shikarpur bleeds as scores dead in [the Shia Islamic Centre] attack but media preoccupied by a farcical Altaf University inaugural. Shameful.’

The foreign conspiracy

The Pakistani government admits that Arab and Western governments are and have been funding seminaries throughout the country. The question of what innocent minds are being taught in these schools is a relevant and urgent one.

Persian Gulf Arab governments, especially those like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are known to suppress their own Shia citizens and expatriates, and are complicit, at the least, in the propagation of a Takfiri ideology, which sees anyone – even Muslims – who is of a different sect or opinion from them as infidels worthy of being murdered.

Yet, the Pakistani establishment would have us believe that this genocide is being perpetrated by Indian intelligence agencies, in order to sow the seeds of division within the country. Few in the media and in political power ask about the billion-dollar ‘gift’ from Saudi Arabia to Nawaz Sharif’s government, the money and arms that flow to extremists in the country, and for what purpose and why this is being allowed to happen.

This narrative absolves successive governments of their responsibility in ensuring that all Pakistanis are able to freely worship and live in safety, as desired by the founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and the peoples of Pakistan.

Questions need to be asked about why for decades governments and the army have allowed seminaries to go unchecked. The Takfiri project that began in the time of late Zia-ul-Haq is now showing its true colors, with an overflow of brainwashed youths hungry to shed blood.

Living in denial

Many believe that when Shias speak of a calculated genocide being carried out against them in the country, they are exaggerating. They speak of Sunni-Shia brotherhood, and how these attacks are on humans, and that sect is unimportant.

It is important to say that these attacks are not an indication of Sunni-Shia strife, but of Takfiris versus everyone else. In fact, many of these attacks have gone to show Muslim unity, as reports have shown Sunnis helping defend, aid, and rescue Shia targets and victims.

It would, though, behoove Pakistanis and the world to not ignore the facts proving a targeted campaign against the Shia minority. The truth in this matter is simply inconvenient for a media and government controlled by those who do not have the country’s best interests at heart.

The blood of countless Shias, be they doctors, engineers, professors, religious scholars, laymen/women, children, the Hazaras, etc. does not lie. Put them all together and the picture is clarified. This was an organized campaign from the beginning to kill in small enough numbers that the population wouldn’t rise up, and in large enough numbers that the Shias would live in fear for their lives, daily.

What now?

What we need to see now is for the media to end the ignorance of the Pakistani peoples as to the facts on the ground and to come out and admit this targeted campaign of killing. The people in turn need to hold those most responsible for the continuing carnage, namely those in power, and thosepoisoning minds in madrassahs throughout the country.

The government, for its part, needs to stop playing politics with its citizens’ lives. The time to end the policy of turning a blind eye to the roots of extremism in the funds and arms flowing in must come to an end.

It is worth noting that despite the insecure atmosphere Shias live in across Pakistan, and though many have over the years left in pursuit of a safe and secure atmosphere for their families and future generations, many have defiantly stayed behind. They argue that Pakistan is just as much their country as others, regardless of what outsiders and the establishment may want.

That then is what we should take away from this. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan was founded for all, and the government, army, and media need to start acting like it.

(Source / 31.01.2015)

Pakistan issues death warrants for six more militants: official

Mother (L) and grandmother of Muhammad Ali Khan, a student who was killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on Army Public School, mourn during the visit of Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, at the school in Peshawar December 22, 2014

Pakistan Saturday issued orders to hang six more militants, official said, the latest in a wave of executions in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre, which claimed 149 lives in the country’s deadliest terror attack.

Among the six is Shafqat Hussain, who was 15 when he was sentenced to death for the kidnapping and murder of a seven-year-old boy in 2004, officials said.

“The courts have issued death warrants for seven convicts,” the prison department home secretary in southern Sindh province Nawaz Shaikh told AFP.

“Prisoners Shahid Hanif and Khalil Ahmed convicted for killing government official on sectarian grounds, Zulfiqar Ali for killing 22 policemen deputed at the US Consulate in Karachi and Behram Khan for killing a young lawyer will be hanged on January 13, while Shahfaq Hussain will be executed for killing a child on January 14,” Shaikh said.

“Two others, Talha and Saeed, will be given capital punishment for sectarian killings on January 15,” he added.

Rights groups in the country have opposed Hussain’s conviction and sentence saying he should have been tried in a juvenile court and not been given the death penalty, which cannot be imposed on minors in Pakistan.

Pakistan ended its six-years-old moratorium on the death penalty in terror cases last month in the wake of the slaughter at an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar on December 16.

Heavily-armed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) gunmen murdered 149 people, 133 of them schoolchildren, in the attack, which shocked the world and brought promises of swift and decisive action by the government and military.

Seven convicted militants have been hanged so far since the de facto ban on capital punishment ended. Six of those executed were found guilty of trying to assassinate then-military dictator Musharraf in Rawalpindi in 2003 and the seventh was sentenced in connection with a 2009 attack on the army headquarters.

Pakistani officials have said they plan to hang 500 convicts in the coming weeks, drawing protest from international human rights campaigners.

The United Nations, European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on Pakistan to re-impose its moratorium on the death penalty.

Rights campaigners say Pakistan overuses its anti-terror laws and courts to prosecute ordinary crimes.

(Source / 03.01.2014)


Pakistan: 311 Shia Muslims martyred in unabated Genocide in 2014

At least 311 Shia Muslim embraced martyrdom across Pakistan during the year 2014. Notorious takfiri nasbi terrorists continued genocide against Shiites and most of the victims of students and businessmen.

2014 began with terrorist attack on Shia pilgrims in Akhtarabad Quetta of Balochistan province that also witnessed another major terrorist attack on Shia pilgrims in DareenGarh area of Mastung district.

Karachi, capital of Sindh province, witnessed 141 targeted murders of Shia Muslims by takfiri ASWJ/LeJ (Sipah-e-Sahaba) and their allies. Quetta, capital city of Balochistan province, ranked second with 51 Shia Muslims assassinated there. Peshawar, capital city of Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa province was third major city where Shia genocide was reported.

23 Shia pilgrims were massacred by takfiri Taliban-shoot in Taftan town of Balochistan province situated on land border with Iran. Kohat of KP province witnessed 14 Shia killings. Eleven (11) Shia Muslims were murdered in Parachinar, Shia majority area of Kurrum Agency. Nine each were reported assassinated in Dera Ismail Khan and Hangu of KP province.

Three Shia Muslims were murdered in Rahim Yar Khan of Punjab province and another 3 in Orakzai Agency (FATA). Two were assassinated in Abbotabad of KP, another 2 in Faisalabad of Punjab province and 2 more in Hyderabad District of Sindh province. Mastung district also witnessed 2 Shiites killed. One each was murdered in Gujrat, Hassan Abdal, Lahore, Khanewal, Multan, Panj Garh, Rajan Pur of Punjab province. Single murders of Shia Muslims were reported in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, Gujrat, Hassan Abdal, Khanewal, Multan, Lahore, Panj Garh, Rajanpur of Punjab province, Shikarpur of Sindh province and Tank of KP province.

Among the Shia martyrs of 2014 were: 138 students, 63 business people, 7 religious scholars, 7 doctors, 4 professors, 5 lawyers, 7 engineers, 3 bankers, and 77 hailed from other professional groups.

(Source / 31.12.2014)

Just how dangerous it is for children to go to school in Pakistan?

Pakistan saw more than 800 attacks on schools between 2009 and 2012.

dorn pakistan infograph

Pakistan is now in mourning, after a gruesome attack on a military-run Peshawar school on Tuesday in which members of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) killed at least 145 people, including 132 children.

“My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me — I felt as though it was death that was approaching me,” said 16-year-old Shahrukh Khan, who survived the massacre.

Scenes of bloodied students and mourning mothers sent shockwaves around the world, drawing condemnation from even the Afghan Taliban. The militant group’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said in a statement that “killing innocent children” goes against the group’s principals.

Writing for the New Statesman on Tuesday, Samira Shackle pointed out that although Pakistan “has lost well over 40,000 innocents to terrorist attacks since 2001,” this week’s attack has still shocked the nation.

Recent Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai, who survived an attempt by the group to kill her two years ago for her work campaigning for girls’ education, said that she was “heartbroken” by the news.

Attacking school children isn’t a new tactic for Pakistan’s militants. According to Save the Children, Pakistan saw more than 800 attacks on schools between 2009 and 2012 — some groups have counted more than 1,000 attacks in the last five years.

But there’s a lot more standing between Pakistani schoolchildren and a quality education than the TTP. Pakistan is second only to Nigeria for number of children out of school, with 5.5 million school-age kids unenrolled. There’s also a huge literacy gap between boys and girls in Pakistan. (The overall literacy rate is 46 percent, but girls’ literacy stands at 26 percent.)

Another barrier to education is good old fashioned government corruption. Anti-corruption group Transparency International said that they receive complaints about unpaid wages, as well as funding allocated to “ghost” teachers and schools that do not exist.

Just as Pakistan’s education crisis is about more than just TTP violence, the TTP’s attack on Tuesday was about more than just girls’ education.

So why did the TTP carry out the attack?

The group’s commander, Jihad Yar Wazir, told the Daily Beast that the school was targeted because of its military affiliation: “The parents of the army school are army soldiers and they are behind the massive killing of our kids and indiscriminate bombing in North and South Waziristan.”

Wazir also said that the TTP is “prepared for a long, long war against the US puppet state of Pakistan.” Militants see the Pakistani state and army as key instruments in the US drone campaign. The government first acknowledged direct cooperation this past June.

But Pakistan’s Defense Minister, Khawaja Asif, has vowed to continue battling the group.

“We are undeterred. … We will not back off,” he told CNN.

Here’s a graphic that will help you understand that Tuesday’s attack is part of a bigger, long-running problem.

(Source / 27.12.2014)

Pakistan protesters surround Taliban-aligned mosque after Peshawar attack

Islamabad civil groups vow to reclaim Lal Masjid from Taliban after scores of children killed

Protesters have descended on a controversial mosque in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, vowing to reclaim the space after its Taliban-aligned cleric refused to condemn the attack on a school in Peshawar last week that left 148 people, including more than 100 children, dead.

“I came to Islamabad for a conference, but then the Peshawar tragedy struck and everything changed. The next day, Lal Masjid cleric issued a statement that I couldn’t stomach and I decided … we should protest,” Jibran Nasir, lawyer and rights activist, told Pakistani news website Dawn. “We want to reclaim our mosques, our communities, our cities, indeed our entire country from extremists.”

Abdul Aziz, head cleric of Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, refused to condemn the Peshawar massacre, calling it an understandable response to a six-month Pakistani military drive against armed groups associated with the Taliban.

In response, Pakistanis began protesting outside Lal Masjid on Thursday, which prompted protests against extremists in cities across Pakistan. Outside the mosque, protesters held a candlelit vigil for the victims and wrote the names of those killed on a white board while speaking against extremism.

“People like Abdul Aziz are acting like spokespersons (for the enemy) and openly telling the world that they support militancy and organizations like (ISIL),” Arieb Azhar, a musician who attended the protest, told Dawn. “We must stand up against them.”

The liberal political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lodged a police complaint against Aziz for his statement after protesters called him a Taliban apologist, Pakistan media reported. On Sunday, Aziz gave into pressure and apologized for failing to unconditionally condemn the Peshawar attack by Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), Pakistan’s Taliban-aligned armed group.

Aziz and Lal Masjid enjoy iconic status among some Pakistanis, and the mosque’s library was named after Osama bin Laden. In 2007, Aziz and his brother Abdul Rashir Ghazi, who helped run the mosque, launched an anti-vice campaign that saw their students take to the streets to violently enforce a hardline version of Sharia law. The campaign included abducting alleged prostitutes in an effort to reeducate them and forcing shopkeepers to burn CDs and videos deemed “evil” or immoral.

In the following months, tensions rose and the mosque’s leaders were charged with kidnapping, assault and abuse. Clashes broke out in July 2007 between security forces and the clerics’ supporters, with troops soon surrounding the mosque. After a weeklong siege, at least 100 people were killed. The crackdown prompted a wave of suicide bombings across the country that killed roughly 1,000 people.

While Ghazi was killed in the attack, Aziz escaped the siege disguised in a burqa — the traditional vestment that women wear that covers their bodies and faces. Afterward, more mosques were occupied in the name of the Taliban and Aziz was acquitted of all charges against him. He still heads Lal Masjid as well as a network of 27 seminaries across the Punjab province that oversees at least 5,000 students.

The TTP has been increasingly active since peace talks with the Pakistani government broke down in the spring after the Taliban demanded the release of all jailed fighters and withdrawal of troops from tribal areas as conditions for negotiations. Aziz was briefly part of the TTP’s negotiating team.

After talks dissolved, more pressure was put on the government to launch an all-out military campaign against the TTP. A recent six-month military crackdown on fighters in North Waziristan, the group’s stronghold, was supposed to have dealt a fatal blow to the TTP.

Analysts had warned the operation might lead to unintended consequences, including driving out fighters to other parts of the country where police are not prepared to stop them. With the military seemingly unable to stop the TTP, civil groups have stepped up in Islamabad by attempting to reclaim the mosque from Aziz and condemn extremism.

“Coming here to reclaim the mosque is taking concrete action, which is why I’ve decided to join in,” Zeeshan Mansoor, a Pakistani musician, told Dawn. “I’ve lived on the street next to the Lal Masjid all my life and it always disturbed me knowing that hatred and extremism is being preached right here in my neighborhood.”

Nasir, who attended the Lal Masjid protest, told Pakistan Today on Monday that he had received a call from a man claiming to be TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan warning him to end the protest after calling for people to join the demonstration. Nasir responded on Twitter saying, “We’ve told him we are standing firm.”

“We can no longer allow anyone to stand on a pulpit and preach hatred. We will no longer stand by and watch people like Abdul Aziz use the name of our Holy Prophet and our religion to perpetuate violence,” Nasir told Dawn on Saturday. “I call upon the people of Islamabad to come out of their homes and reclaim their city.”

(Source / 22.12.2014)

Afghan Taliban condemn Pakistani Taliban attack on Peshawar school


“We hid in a locker room and pretended to be dead.”

The massacre at a Peshawar school by the PakistaniTaliban has been condemned as un-Islamic – by the Afghan Taliban.

“The intentional killing of innocent people, children and women is against the basics of Islam and this criteria has to be considered by every Islamic party and government,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

The Pakistani Taliban said the attack was in revenge for military operations against the insurgents.

Meanwhile the Pakistani government in Islamabad has reinstated the death penalty for terrorist offences which had been suspended.

The first funerals have been taking place as Pakistan wakes up to three days of mourning after the slaughter of 132 students and nine members of staff.

Grade 12 student Abdul Azam Afridi was among those to be buried.

Iqbal Afridi, a relative of the victim, said security should have been heightened at the school which was on the Taliban hit list.

“We condemn this. These children were the future builders of Pakistan, they were students. What had they to do with any (military) operation or whatever else is happening? They were innocent students. The government should have given them proper security because, as far as I know, this school was getting regular threats. Once or twice it was closed down because of the threats,” Afridi said.

Surviving students recovering in hospital have been describing what happened at the army-run school as the gunmen opened fire.

“We hid in a locker room and pretended to be dead. The militants kind of believed us, but two of our group, including a female teacher, caught their attention so they shot them in the head to make sure they were dead. After they shot the teacher, they burnt her body,” said student Mehran Khan from his hospital bed.

The Afghan Taliban has surprised some by condemning the attack. Some experts say the group behind the attack, the Pakistani Taliban, has evolved into a separate organisation with its own goals.

In Pakistan’s largest city Karachi at the other end of the country, candlelit vigils were held to mourn the victims.

The deliberate slaughter of so many children has stunned a nation already weary of extremist attacks.

Peshawar sits on the edge of a lawless tribal belt straddling the Afghan border.

Both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban are bent on toppling their respective countries’ governments and imposing their strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The Pakistan military has responded to the school massacre with massive airstrikes on Taliban targets in the border region.

(Source / 17.12.2014)