Pakistan News

At least seven people, including six policemen, were killed and 24 others injured in an explosion targeting a truck carrying police officials in the Sariab Mill area of Quetta on Wednesday.

Investigators examine the burnt police truck after the blast. ─ AFP
Investigators examine the burnt police truck after the blast. ─ AFP

 

Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Abdul Razzaq Cheema said an investigation is underway to determine whether the blast was a suicide bombing or whether an explosives-laden vehicle was detonated remotely when the police truck was passing by, adding that the death toll could increase.

The 35-strong contingent of elite policemen had been recently assigned patrol of various sensitive areas and were on their way to work on the Quetta-Sibi road when the explosion took place, Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti told DawnNews.

Bugti told AFP that a car rammed the police vehicle before catching fire, adding it was "apparently a suicide attack", in an account confirmed by.

Investigators collect evidence from the site of the attack. ─ AFP
Investigators collect evidence from the site of the attack. ─ AFP

 

"Police were targeted in this attack," Bugti said.

DIG Cheema confirmed the death toll, saying that 24 people were wounded, several critically.

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, but the claim has not been independently verified by Dawn.com.

Investigators collect evidence from the site of the attack. ─ AFP
Investigators collect evidence from the site of the attack. ─ AFP

 

Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri, while speaking to reporters, said the bomb contained 80 kilograms of explosive material.

Following the attack, an emergency was imposed in hospitals in Quetta. Some of the injured were admitted to Civil Hospital Quetta, while the rest were being treated at Combined Military Hospital.

A forensic team and the Bomb Disposal Squad had reached the site of the attack to investigate the nature of the blast, Bugti said, adding that a forensic team from Lahore would arrive in Quetta tomorrow to aid in the probe.

Pakistani policemen and officials offer funeral prayers for policemen who died in the blast. — AFP
Pakistani policemen and officials offer funeral prayers for policemen who died in the blast. — AFP

 

"The war against terrorism is not over. Balochistan is on the forefront of this fight and we will not stop until every single terrorist has left the area," the home minister said.

He added: "These cowardly attacks will not hinder our security forces in executing their duties."

In a separate incident, Police Inspector Abdul Salam was shot dead on Quetta's Qambrani Road, in what security sources claim was a target killing.

Balochistan has experienced incidents of violence and targeted killings for over a decade. In recent months, the province has faced a number of security challenges, with security personnel in the province often being targeted in roadside explosions and suicide attacks.

Fifteen people, including eight soldiers, were martyred when a suicide bomber targeted a military truck near the Pishin bus stop in Quetta on August 13.

Earlier in June, 14 people ─ including seven policemen ─ lost their livesin a suicide blast that shook Shuhada Chowk in Quetta's Gulistan Road area.

A recent operation by the Pakistani Army in the FATA resulted in the displacement of 453 families (3,624 individuals). The FATA Disaster Management Authority has requested IR Pakistan to support newly displaced families. IR Pakistan immediately dispatched 400 tents and 400 kitchen sets from the ‘Ready2Respond’ emergency stocks the area. Later our team distributed these to displaced families in Samsai and Sheen Pokh villages in the Landi Kotal Tehsil of FATA.

اسلام آباد (سٹاف رپورٹر+نوائے وقت رپورٹ + ایجنسیاں)فوج نے امریکہ کی طرف سے فراہم کردہ بروقت انٹیلی جنس اطلاع کی بنیاد پر کرم ایجنسی میں کارروائی کرتے ہوئے پانچ غیر ملکیوں کو دہشت گردوں سے بازیاب کروا لیا ہے۔ آئی ایس پی آر کے مطابق 2012 میں افغانستان سے اغوا کئے گئے ان افراد کو، افغانستان سے کرم ایجنسی کے اندر منتقل کیا جا رہا تھا کہ گیارہ اکتوبر کو امریکی فراہم کردہ اطلاع پر ان کی بازیابی کیلئے یہ کامیاب کارروائی کی گئی۔ بیان کے مطابق یہ کامیاب کارروائی، قابل عمل اور بروقت فراہم کردہ انٹیلی جنس اطلاع کی اہمیت اور دہشت گردی کے خلاف دونوں ملکوں کے تعاون کی اہمیت کو بھی اجاگر کرتی ہے۔ بیان میںبتایا گیا ہے کہ بازیاب کرائے گئے افراد میں ایک کینیڈین، اس کی امریکی نژاد بیوی اورتین بچے شامل ہیں۔تمام افراد کو ان کے ملک منتقل کیا جا رہا ہے۔بیان میں اگرچہ مغوین کی شناخت نہیں بتائی گئی تاہم باور کیا جاتا ہے بازیاب ہونے والا جوڑا، اس کینیڈین شہری جوشوا بوئلے اور اس کی امریکی بیوی کیٹلان کولمن پر مشتمل ہے اور دو بار طالبان نے ان کی ویڈیوز جاری کیں۔ ان افراد کی بازیابی کی خبر مختصر وقت میں پوری دنیا کے میڈیا پر پھیل گئی۔ نوائے وقت رپورٹ کے مطابق پاک فوج کے شعبہ تعلقات عامہ (آئی ایس پی آر) کے جاری بیان کے مطابق پاک فوج نے جن 5 غیرملکی مغویوں کو بازیاب کرایا ان میں ایک کینیڈین، اس کی امریکی نژاد بیوی اور 3 بچے شامل ہیں۔ آئی ایس پی آر کے مطابق پانچوں مغویوں کو 2012 میں افغانستان سے اغوا کیا گیا تھا۔ خیال ظاہر کیا جارہا ہے یہ وہی جوڑا ہے جس کی ویڈیو 21 دسمبر 2016 کو طالبان کی جانب سے نشر کی گئی تھی۔ مغویوں کو کینیڈا منتقل کیا جا رہا ہے۔ بی بی سی کے مطابق بیان کے مطابق امریکی حکام نے 11 اکتوبر کو پاکستان فوج کو انٹیلی جنس فراہم کی تھی کہ ان افراد کو کرم ایجنسی کی سرحد کے ذریعے پاکستان منتقل کیا جا رہا ہے۔ امریکی خفیہ ادارے ایک عرصہ سے ان کی تلاش میں تھے۔ بیان میں کہا گیا ہے امریکی حکام کی جانب سے دی جانے والی خفیہ اطلاعات قابل عمل تھیں اور ان کی بنیاد پر کیا گیا آپریشن کامیاب رہا اور تمام مغوی بحفاظت بازیاب کروا لیے گئے۔ فوج کے بیان میں یہ بھی کہا گیا ہے اس کامیاب آپریشن سے ظاہر ہوتا ہے خفیہ معلومات کا بروقت تبادلہ کس قدر اہم ہے اور یہ کہ پاکستان مشترکہ دشمن کے خلاف دونوں ممالک کی افواج کے تعاون سے جنگ جاری رکھنے کے لیے پرعزم ہے۔ ڈی جی آئی ایس پی آر کے مطابق بازیاب کنیین شہری کے والدین نے پاک فوج کاشکریہ اداکیا ہے جوشوا کے والدین بیٹے کی بازیابی پر خوش ہیں والدہ نے کہا ہمیں آج شاندار خبر ملی بتایا گیا جوشوا اور خاندان کو بازیاب کرا لیا گیا 20 منٹ بعدہماری جوشوا سے بات بھی کرائی گئی 5 سال میں پہلیبار بیٹے کی آواز سنی بڑا سکون ملا جوشوا نے کہا بچے دادا، دادی سے ملنے کے لئے بے چین ہیں۔ اب ہم اپنے پیاروں سے ملنے کے منتظر ہیں۔ والد نے کہا پاک فوج کے بہادر سپاہیوں کے دل کی گہرائیوں سے شکر گزار ہیں پاکستانی فوجیوں نے جان خطرے میں ڈال کرہمارے پیارے بازیاب کرائے ہیں۔ امریکہ میںپاکستانی سفیر اعزاز چودھری نے 5 غیر ملکیوں کی بازیابی پر بیان میںکہا ہے مغویوں کی بازیابی کے لئے فوجی آپریشن کاخیرمقدم کرتے ہیں۔ خانون کیٹلان کولمین اور ان کے گھرانے کو بہت تکالیف سے گزرنا پڑا ہمیں خوشی ہے کہ اب وہ بازیاب کرا لئے گئے ہیں۔ مغویوں کی بازیابی کے لئے پاکستان انٹیلی جنس کی شاندار کامیابی ہے پاک فوج نے دہشت گردوںکے خلاف کامیاب آپریشن کیا تعاون کے ذریعے دہشتگردوں کو شکست دی جاسکتی ہے۔
واشنگٹن (نوائے وقت رپورٹ+ اے ایف پی+ اے این این) امریکی صدر ڈونلڈ ٹرمپ نے پاک فوج کی جانب سے 5 غیرملکیوں کی بازیابی پر پاکستان کی تعریف کی ہے۔ انہوں نے کہا پاکستانی اور امریکی اہلکاروں نے عمدہ کام کیا۔ صدر ٹرمپ نے کہا غیرملکیوں کی بازیابی پاکستان امریکہ تعلقات میں مثبت لمحہ ہے امید ہے دونوں ممالک میں دہشت گردی کے خلاف تعاون جاری رہے گا۔ دیگر مغویوں کی بازیابی کیلئے بھی ٹیم ورک جاری رہنے کی امید ہے۔ وائٹ ہاﺅس سے جاری بیان کے مطابق امریکی صدر نے کہا جوڑے کو حقانی نیٹ ورک نے اغوا کیا۔ امریکی صدر نے بازیاب ہونے والوں کی شناخت ظاہر کرتے ہوئے بتایا امریکی شہری کیٹلان کولمین اور اسکے کینیڈین شوہر جوشوا بوئل اور ان کے 3 بچوں کو امریکہ اور پاکستانی حکام نے طالبان کی قید سے بازیاب کرایا۔ ٹرمپ نے کہا یہ تعاون اشارہ ہے پاکستان خطے میں سکیورٹی کےلئے ڈومور کی امریکی خواہش کا احترام کرتا ہے مستقبل میں یہ تعاون‘ ٹیم ورک دہشتگردی کیخلاف مشترکہ کارروائیوں میں بھی مددگار ہو گا۔ اے این این کے مطابق ڈونلڈ ٹرمپ نے کہا ہمیں امید ہے اس طرح کی معاونت اور ٹیم ورک مزید مغویوں کی بازیابی اور مستقبل میں انسداد دہشتگردی کیلئے مشترکہ آپریشنز کیلئے مددگار ثابت ہو گی۔ نوائے وقت رپورٹ کے مطابق امریکی وزیر خارجہ ٹلرسن نے کہا ہے مغویوں کی بازیابی پاکستان کے ساتھ کام کرنے کا نتیجہ ہے۔ امریکی حکومت کی جانب سے اس اقدام کو زبردست الفاظ میں سراہا ہے۔ پاکستان کے ساتھ مصروف عمل امریکی سفیر ڈیوڈ ہیل اور ان کی ٹیم پر فخر ہے۔ یہ اقدامات اس بات کا بہترین عکاس ہے امریکہ کیا کچھ حاصل کر سکتا ہے۔

LAHORE: “No one has ever achieved much from staying within the confines of a system...you need to create your own path.” At the risk of sounding a tad affected, these sagely words from a seventeen-year-old student of A-Levels are an attempt to explain how he had managed to achieve a goal most of his cohorts would find unthinkable at their young age, and the message he wants to give students aspiring to build a career in science.

Age, for Muhammad Shaheer Niazi, is a mere number that should never have to hold anyone back. The bespectacled curly-haired student from the Lahore College of Arts and Sciences (LACAS), Johar Town, A-Level Campus, got published a research paper in the journal, Royal Society Open Science, based on research he had conducted for the International Young Physicists’ Tournament in Russia last year.

Speaking to Dawn, Shaheer recalls that while preparing for the tournament at the laboratories at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Dr Sabieh Anwar, who leads the PhysLab initiative, handed him a thermographic camera. Like most 17-year-olds, he began by taking his own pictures, but also caught on camera temperature differences on the surface of a layer of oil in an electric field between a pointed electrode and a flat one (a honeycomb pattern appears on the layer of oil when high voltage is passed through). He used shadowgraphy to image the ion stream. This had not been done before.

The team representing Pakistan at the International Young Physicists’ Tourna­ment was given the electric honeycomb phenomenon to present on and Shaheer’s twin sister, Khadija Niazi, was the team captain. He decided to write a paper on his findings but little did he realise what an arduous process it would be to make it publishable. The process of peer review, for example, took time.

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Professor Troy Shinbrot at the Rutgers University says, “I read Mr Niazi’s paper and thought it was really lovely work, but he needed help writing the manuscript in a publishable form. This was I think just a matter that the work was good, but the presentation needed polishing to strengthen his case. In the end, I referred him to a colleague, Dr Tapan Sabuwala, and the Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology, who generously agreed to spend the time working with Mr Niazi doing the necessary polishing. I’m very glad to see the work published.”

Similarly, Dr Sabieh was all praise for Shaheer’s work. His website www.physlab.org carries the stories of all the team members who prepared for the tournament over three months and worked on solutions to “mind-baffling physical phenomena” including: electric honeycombs, hot water geysers, rollers on rollers, magnetic trains, ultra-hydrophobic water, acoustic metamaterials and mechanical machines to generate random numbers.

Smiling broadly, Shaheer says it was his mother’s dream for he and his sister to get papers published in journals. He received an acceptance letter for his paper shortly before his birthday last month. His sister Khadija Niazi got her paper published in the journal, NRC Research Press — a division of Canadian Science Publishing — last year. Her paper — Solving core issues of early physics education in Pakistan — addresses the problem of paucity of women interested in careers in pure physics and sciences, while discussing novel ways to reach a wider audience.

“I see both of my children developing careers in research,” says Ayesha Ahmad, their mother. The twins are candid about how their mother was central to cultivating their interest in science and in pushing them to broaden their interests. Neither of the two wants to limit themselves to a single field. Shaheer, for example, is planning on conducting research into plant perceptions, which he admits is a controversial subject, but fits neatly with his interests in gardening and horticulture.

Khadjia, on the other hand, believes that strict career lines and specialisations only inhibit one’s intellectual curiosity. She is interested in bringing together seemingly immiscible disciplines (in her case, it is physics and journalism) to create something novel and get an increasing number of students in Pakistan interested in subjects that aren’t usually taught at schools.

The twins are all praise for the help LACAS gave them to pursue their research interests — from providing a portion of funding for the tournament, to allowing Shaheer to wreak havoc in the labs. “Mother used to tell us to think big and think ahead,” Khadija says. “She made us brilliant.”

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2017

Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar on Saturday requested early retirement from the Pakistan Army citing "pressing personal commitments".

Gen Akhtar, in a letter, asked for "premature release" starting Oct 9, 2017, after nearly 35 years of active commissioned service in the armed forces.

"I want everyone [...] to respect my decision and not succumb or resort to speculation in any domain. I shall be available for any service in the army whenever needed," he added.

Akhtar, who was replaced by Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar as director general (DG) ISI, was posted as president of the National Defence University two weeks after Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa took oath last year.

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Gen Akhtar is a graduate of the Command and Staff College in Quetta, National Defence University and the Army War College, USA. He was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in Frontier Force Regiment in September 1982.

He is from the Frontier Force Regiment and commanded the infantry brigade and infantry division in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

Previously as DG Rangers Sindh, Gen Akhtar had been assigned with the task to lead the Karachi operation which began in 2013. But the military had replaced him as DG Rangers Sindh with Maj Gen Bilal Akbar in 2014.

He is considered to have extensive experience of counterinsurgency from a previous posting in the border region of South Waziristan.

ISLAMABAD: In an effort to pacify the agitating members of the ruling party, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday categorically stated on the floor of the National Assembly that the list containing the names of the parliamentarians said to have links with banned outfits allegedly prepared by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was “fake and a forged document”.

Mr Abbasi declared that neither the Prime Minister Office had written any letter to the IB to investigate the parliamentarians nor had the bureau prepared any such report as claimed by a TV channel last month.

He said the TV channel had claimed that the Prime Minister Office had sent a letter to the IB asking it to investigate some 37 parliamentarians, mostly belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), for allegedly having links with proscribed organisations.

The prime minister said the IB had already declared the list as “a forged document” and that the bureau had also initiated an inquiry to find out those responsible for this fiasco.PM says Pemra has been directed to take action against TV channel that ‘showed this fake letter’

During the question hour and before arrival of the prime minister at the house, former interior minister and estranged PML-N stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was seen holding discussion with Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordina­tion Riaz Pirzada and some other members from south Punjab, whose names were there on the controversial list.

Mr Abbasi said that he had directed the IB to proceed with a legal case against whosoever had authored the fake letter. Besides this, he said the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had also been directed to take action in line with its laws against the TV channel which “showed this fake letter on screen”.

He said an FIR (first information report) had already been registered and investigations were under way in this regard.

Privilege motion

The prime minister asked Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, who was presiding over the session at that time, to refer the privilege motion moved by the affected lawmakers to the house committee on rules and privileges for further action.

He said he had come to the house to state some facts regarding the allegations against 37 lawmakers as the issue was being discussed in TV programmes for the past many days. He denied the opposition’s allegations that the government was using the issue to gag the press.

Mr Abbasi said that some of the ministers had raised this issue in a meeting of the federal cabinet last month and they had been informed at that time too that no such list existed and that it was a fake document. He said the members had been asked to lodge their complaints with Pemra as the report had defamed them.

Sources in the PML-N told Dawn that the issue was discussed in detail during a meeting of the party’s parliamentary group presided over by the prime minister before the start of the National Assembly session. They said that it was on the insistence of the agitating PML-N members that Mr Abbasi had to make the statement on the floor of the house.

The sources said that the prime minister agreed to issue the statement and asked the affected lawmakers not to discuss the issue on any other forum as it could cause embarrassment and difficulties for the government. Last month, ARY News in its programme ‘Power Play’ had claimed that the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, had directed the IB on July 10 — three weeks before his disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case — to probe the 37 lawmakers for allegedly having links with the banned and sectarian outfits.

The list contained the names of 37 lawmakers, including a number of key ministers such as Riaz Pirzada, Zahid Hamid, Baleeghur Rehman, Sikandar Bosan, Awais Leghari and Hafiz Abdul Kareem as well as Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi.

The government faced an embarrassing situation in the National Assembly last week when the PML-N members led by Mr Pirzada staged a walkout from the house to register their protest over the issue.

Before leaving the house, Mr Pirzada came down hard on the government for what he termed “insulting” him and other members of parliament.

Meanwhile, the prime minister also responded to a calling attention notice of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement regarding the recent increase in the oil prices.

Mr Abbasi claimed that the oil prices in Pakistan were lowest in the region and among all the oil-importing countries and challenged the members to verify it through internet.

Later, son-in-law of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and MNA retired Capt Mohammad Safdar, who had earlier in the day appeared before a NAB court, took the floor and started a sermon-like speech on the issue of Khatm-i-Nabuwwat in the context of the recent controversy over the change in the declaration for the electoral candidates.

He was still speaking when Hamidul Haq of the PTI pointed out lack of quorum, forcing the deputy speaker to adjourn the sitting till Tuesday morning.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2017

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is trying to restart the quadrilateral peace process for ending the Afghan war and has asked the group members to meet in Muscat, Oman, on Oct 16.

Afghanistan, the United States, China and Pakistan are members of the group.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif told VOA Urdu in Washington last week that Pakistan would play a leading role in this quadrilateral session, aimed at bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table.

The Quadrilateral Cooperation Group first met in January 2016 and has had five sessions so far, the last being held in May 2016 in Murree.

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The process was plagued by problems from the beginning. First the Taliban refused to join it unless given the same status as the Afghan government. When they were persuaded to attend, relations between Kabul and Islamabad strained.

The first four meetings, however, did show some progress. China’s participation was particularly encouraging as both Pakistan and Afghanistan set aside their acrimony to welcome China. Pakistan hoped that China’s involvement would answer its main concern, India’s growing influence in Afghanistan. The Afghan government hoped that China’s clout with Pakistan could have help persuade Islamabad to improve its ties with Kabul.

The international community too welcomed the quadrilateral talks because all four countries are seen as crucial to ensuring the success of any peace talks on Afghanistan.

But during the fifth session, some officials in Kabul leaked news to the media saying that the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar had died in Karachi in 2013 but Pakistan was hiding this news because it feared losing its influence on the Taliban.

The revelation derailed the talks as officials from each of the four governments opted to return to their capitals for consultations. On May 21, 2016, Mullah Omar’s successor, Mullah Mansour was also killed in a US drone strike in Balochistan, which further delayed the peace process.

Since then, Pakistan has made several attempts to restart the talks but none of the four parties seemed very keen on returning to negotiations.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban increased their attacks on both US and Afghan government targets. And in the United States, the new Trump administration concluded that the best way is to force the Taliban to talk.

At a recent news briefing in Washington, US State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert expressed doubts about the success of these peace efforts when she questioned the efficacy of the Taliban’s non-official diplomatic post in Qatar.

“We’ve been now in that war for 16 years” but “they have not been able to come to any kind of peace and reconciliation, so just by having folks sit around in Qatar, in probably a pretty cushy life there, has not demonstrated, has not brought to the table any kind of significant peace efforts,” she said.

And during his three-day visit to Washington last week, the Pakistani foreign minister acknowledged that Pakistan too was losing its influence on the Taliban.

“At least for our influence on Taliban today, there is mistrust,” Mr Asif told VOA Urdu, adding that he believes Russia “today has more influence on the Taliban than Pakistan does”.

Despite these concerns, all four members of this group want some peace in Afghanistan and are likely to participate in the Muscat meeting.

But instead of sending their senior officials, as they did to the last five meetings, they are likely to send mid-level officials to prepare for future talks.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2017

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