Posts Tagged ‘Nawaz Sharif’

Pakistan moving towards instability: Nawaz Sharif

December 15, 2017

Geo News

LONDON: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said the country is moving towards instability and the current circumstances in Pakistan are not satisfactory.

Image result for Nawaz Sharif, photos

Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz added that the country, which was progressing well, is now moving towards instability after the July 28 decision.

“I said it during my rally in Quetta too, such decisions become the reason for anarchy in a country,” said the former prime minister.

Nawaz is in London after the court had exempted him for a short duration from appearing in the hearings held for the NAB references registered against him.

Nawaz said his government has worked hard during the last four years to improve the country and the circumstances of the masses.

However, he said, terrorism which was under control during his leadership is again rearing its head in the country.

“CPEC projects have slowed down, projects are not progressing at the speed as they were during our tenure,” elaborated Nawaz further and added that the stock exchange, which was hovering around 54,000 points, has now dropped down to around 37,000 points.

“These are all economic indicators. Political instability effects the country.”

Nawaz also expressed his dismay at the current circumstances.

Image result for Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, photos

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

Earlier today, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif arrived at Hasan Nawaz’s office in London to meet party leader and former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, Shehbaz’s son Salman, and other members of the family were also present at the meeting.

Abbasi said the government would complete its tenure and elections would be held on time.

“The government will complete its tenure and elections will be held on time,” said the prime minister, reiterating the government’s stance.

The prime minister also said that the merger of FATA with KP is part of the agenda and some reservations raised are being allayed.

The PML-N leaders also met former premier Shaukat Aziz at his London residence yesterday to offer their condolences on the demise of his son.

According to credible sources privy to developments in PML-N, Nawaz has also recently met former finance minister Ishaq Dar in London. The meeting was held at the residence of Nawaz’s son, Hasan Nawaz, wherein the present situation of the country came under discussion, sources said.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/172299-country-moving-towards

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Nawaz Sharif vindicated as Supreme Court refuses to reopen Hudaibiya Paper Mills Case — Political stability in Pakistan still being questioned

December 15, 2017

 

Former prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif addresses a public rally organized by Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party in Quetta on Nov. 2, 2017. (AFP)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday unanimously rejected the appeal to reopen the 17-year old corruption case against ousted Premier Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
In an appeal, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB ) sought to re-open the case commonly known as the Hudaibiya Paper Mills.

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The country’s anti-graft body, NAB, alleges that the Sharif family used the company in the 1990s to launder about $10 million out of Pakistan; Sharif and his family members deny the allegation.
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The court order has brought some relief for Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif who was also accused in the case. The Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif from office in July this year due to concealment of financial assets and that forced him to step down.
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Pakistan has been in political turmoil since Nawaz Sharif’s judicial ouster, which was largely flayed by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party members who called the ouster a conspiracy against a democratically elected government.
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National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq is the latest member of the political corps and senior government officials to speak of an alleged conspiracy to derail democracy in Pakistan. He expressed his fear that the current assemblies may not be able to complete their full terms.
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In an interview this week, Sadiq said he has “enough information to believe that a conspiracy was being hatched” to “disrupt the (democratic) system.” This was quoted on a local television channel and he added that the recent sit-in protests by far-right activists in different cities were also part of this “greater plan.”
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According to the media, Sadiq also hinted at the involvement of external forces in political maneuvering to destabilize the government and stressed that the US would eventually question political stability in Pakistan if such “experiments went unabated.” His statements have caused great concern, not only among politicians but among the general public as well.
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The government is already facing difficulty in getting the constitutional amendment passed by the Upper House, Senate, which is required for delimitation of constituencies after the recent population census — a prerequisite for holding next year’s elections on schedule. Any delay in elections would essentially mean an interim setup taking over until constitutional requisites were fulfilled.
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Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, however, said he was optimistic that the assemblies would complete their term.
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After a meeting with Nawaz Sharif in London on Thursday, Abbasi confidently said: “Our government will have smooth sailing and an interim government will be formed in June.”
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As the opposition party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) demands snap elections alleging governmental incompetence and corruption, religious groups oppose the government over an amendment which the government calls a clerical error. While opposition parties are forging different alliances to add to the mounting pressure on the government, Pakistan appears unsure of its political course.
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Who are the “anti-blasphemy” Islamists wielding new political influence in Pakistan?

December 3, 2017

The public perception after the crackdown against protestors is overwhelmingly anti-PML(N), while the Pakistan military has gained more sympathy for refusing the act against them. The stage has now been set for the PML(N) exit in the elections next year

Written by Umer Ali | Updated: December 1, 2017 10:43 am

pakistan, pakistan protests, pakistan blasphemy laws, pakistan protests blasphemy laws, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool-ullah, pakistan news, indian express, indian express news

Members of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan far right Islamist political party shout slogans during a sit-in in Rawalpindi, Pakistan November 10, 2017. Reuters

The last three weeks have laid bare Pakistan’s claims of countering extremist ideology, both militarily and ideologically. The state shut down social media websites and TV channels in order to counter protesting supporters of the newly-formed religious party, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool-ullah around Islamabad, and ordered the deployment of troops to restore order. But as a clear sign of insubordination, the military instead objected to the way the protest was handled.

It is important to explore the genesis of TLYP – a group of Barelvi religious organizations behind these protests. For decades, the Deobandi-Salafist groups championed the cause of violent jihad in Pakistan, while the Barelvi groups mostly remained apolitical and non-violent. However, unlike the common belief that only Deobandi-Salafist groups apostatize other sects, Barelvi literature is also rich with fatwas against the followers of other Islamic sects. One reason why Barelvi groups weren’t radicalized during the Afghan jihad is because the Saudi funding to fight the Soviet Union was directed towards Deobandi and Salafist groups due to their ideological affinity. However, over the past few years, Barelvi groups have gained significant political influence and street power.

Barelvi (Urduبَریلوِی‎, BarēlwīUrdu pronunciation: [bəreːlʋi]) is a term used for the movement following the SunniHanafi school of jurisprudence, originating in Bareilly with over 200 million followers in South Asia.[1] The name derives from the north Indian town of Bareilly, the hometown of its founder and main leader Ahmed Raza Khan (1856–1921).[2][3][4][5][6] Although Barelvi is the commonly used term in the media and academia, the followers of the movement often prefer to be known by the title of Ahle Sunnat wa Jama’at, (Urduاہل سنت وجماعت‎) or as Sunnis, a reference to their perception as forming an international majority movement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barelvi

Since then, Qadri, a Barelvi himself, became the poster boy for Barelvi religious groups. They now champion the ishq-i-rasool (love for the prophet), and remain at the forefront of anti-blasphemy campaigning in Pakistan. The much-needed catalyst to bring their followers on the streets was the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri to death. TLYP was born out of the protests against Qadri’s death. The current leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi gained fame through his fiery speeches against the government.

Unlike the several militant outfits which turned on the military after Pakistan decided to aid the United States’ war on terror in Afghanistan, TLYP focuses its criticism on the civilian government, and not the military. Unlike the Deobandis and Salafis, experts say, Barelvi leaders pose as pro-army and pro-state, who want themselves affiliated with the army, thus giving an impression that everything they are doing is lawful.

This stands true in the current fiasco as well, when General Qamar Bajwa reportedly refused to deploy the military to disperse the protestors, saying “they are our people”. Now that a deal has been struck between the government and the protestors with the arbitration of an ISI Major General, and Law minister Zahid Hamid has resigned, several questions arise: why did an ISI General act as an arbitrator between the government and protestors? If the government was willing to accept the protestors’ demand, why wait for three weeks? Perhaps, the military pressurized the government to accept the protestors’ demands.

The deal itself has been subject to severe criticism by various quarters, with leading commentators describing it as “surrender”. Unfortunately, such deals were struck with the likes of TTP leaders Mullah Fazlullah in Swat and Nek Muhammad in Waziristan, but ultimately, the state had to launch military operations against them.

If one was to learn from those experiences, accepting the demands of an outlawed group is acknowledging them as stakeholders, which only worsens the situation. With this deal as well, the government conformed to the outrageous demands of a small group of protestors – setting another very bad precedent.

Now that someone’s faith is subject to suspicion by a mob, it is clear the mob won’t stop with Zahid Hamid. According to some reports, Punjab Law minister Rana Sanaullah needs to testify his belief in the finality of Prophethood in front of some clerics. If this continues, no one even with a slightly dissenting opinion will be able to live peacefully in Pakistan.

However, there is another important factor to be considered. The military in Pakistan has a history of using religious groups to further their agenda. Currently, the establishment is working hard to destroy the PML(N) votebank ahead of the 2018 general elections. What better way to do so but pitting Barelvism – a large part of the Pakistani population adheres to this school of thought – against the PML(N) ?

The signs have been there. In the recent by-elections for the National Assembly seat vacated by the disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, TLYP received more than 7,000 votes, while the Milli Muslim League – a political front of the banned LeT (or JuD) – received more than 5,500 votes. Both parties built their campaigns based solely on anti-PML(N) rhetoric.

One reason the military establishment is now relying on Barelvi groups is because the previous “assets” have now become a liability. Pakistan faces continuous pressure from the international community for not acting against terror groups like Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa, or its previous incarnation, the Lashkar-e-Toiba. By using the Barelvi groups, over an issue as sensitive as blasphemy, the military establishment might be preparing alternative assets to be deployed against their political rivals in Pakistan. The public perception after the government crackdown against protestors is overwhelmingly anti-PML(N), while the Pakistan military has gained more sympathy for refusing the act against them. Pakistan’s ultra-conservative population believe they were fighting for a noble cause.

The stage has now been set for the PML(N) exit in the elections next year, but at a hefty cost. A dangerous precedent has been set, and the majority Muslim sect has been weaponized. History is repeating itself in Pakistan.

Umer Ali is an award-winning Pakistani journalist who has reported extensively on terrorism, blasphemy, and human rights. He tweets @iamumer1
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Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan an Islamist political party, attends Friday prayers during a sit-in in Rawalpindi, Pakistan November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood Reuters

Blasphemy Uproar in Pakistan: Drive to Halt Insults Against Islam Gains Political Clout in Pakistan — “This is a mini revolution.”

December 3, 2017

Anti-blasphemy uprising in majority sect wins influence through protests, prosecutions

Protesters chanted slogans at their protest site in Islamabad, Pakistan on Nov. 27.Photo: CAREN FIROUZ/Reuters

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—An emerging religious movement is gaining political clout in Pakistan around the incendiary issue of blasphemy, posing a particular challenge to the country’s leadership because it springs from the country’s mainstream Islamic sect.

Religious activists led by a cleric with a weeks-old political party besieged Pakistan’s capital in late November and forced the government to give in to all of their demands, including promises of stricter implementation of blasphemy laws.

“This is a mini revolution,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on religious extremism.

The anti-blasphemy wave, supported by vigilantism and political activism, is reviving religious strife in the society and politics of Pakistan, which is gradually surfacing from a decadelong struggle with Islamist terrorism.

This time the conflict comes not in militant attacks but an inquisition over who is a proper Muslim.

Khadim Rizvi, leader of the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah political party, addresses the media during protests in Islamabad, on Nov. 27.Photo: caren firouz/Reuters

With national elections set to be held by September, the concessions to protesters last month underscored the threat that the movement could pose to Pakistan’s ruling party among voters and lawmakers, some of whom are threatening to leave the party over the issue.

Laws prohibiting blasphemy—statements or actions against Islam—have long been on the books in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. But there are more cases recorded in Pakistan, with harsher punishments, including a mandatory death penalty for using derogatory language about the Prophet Muhammad.

Anti-blasphemy campaigns are also growing in other parts of the Muslim world, including Indonesia, where a conservative party gained clout this year with accusations of blasphemy against the governor of Jakarta, who is Christian. He lost re-election, was convicted and is serving a two-year prison sentence.

In Pakistan, the new campaign was ignited by a February 2016 decision by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to execute a police officer, Mumtaz Qadri, who had shot dead a politician who had sought to make the blasphemy law less open to abuse. Some 300,000 people turned out for Mr. Qadri’s highly charged funeral.

Khadim Rizvi, then a little-known firebrand cleric at a small mosque in Lahore, seized on the moment, using social media to build a following and launch a group called Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, or Movement in Response to God’s Prophet’s Call.

A Pakistani security force helicopter patrols over the tomb of Mumtaz Qadri, who was hanged in February 2016 for killing a politician who had sought to make Pakistan’s blasphemy laws less open to abuse, on the outskirts of Islamabad on March 1, one year after Mr. Qadri’s funeral.Photo: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

In recent weeks, Mr. Rizvi made the group a political party, which came third in two by-elections, ahead of long-established parties.

“There’s a big conspiracy, coming from Europe, to take Pakistan towards liberalism,” Mr. Rizvi said in an interview in November. He said there can be no forgiveness for blasphemy, and no punishment for anyone who kills a blasphemer.

In November, Mr. Rizvi led a three-week sit-in protest in Islamabad to directly challenge the government and Mr. Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N party.

His group has drawn most of its followers from the Barelvi sect of Islam, which is followed by the majority of Pakistan’s population and has been largely moderate, resistant to the militancy spawned by purist forms of the religion. Mr. Rizvi represents one arm of a broader anti-blasphemy movement that isn’t yet unified, but is now organizing.

The U.S. had viewed the Barelvi as a moderate bulwark against militancy, and in 2009 gave a Barelvi group a $36,000 grant to organize a rally against the Pakistani Taliban, according to the State Department. That group, the Sunni Ittehad Council, is now also part of the anti-blasphemy movement.

The Barelvi venerate the Prophet Muhammad with an absolute devotion, making a perceived insult an inflammatory issue.

The funeral of Mashal Khan, a student who was killed by his classmates in April after he described himself as a “humanist,” in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northwest Pakistan. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Mr. Rizvi is an upstart in the Barelvi world, which doesn’t have a single leader. But his influence is pushing the sect in a harder direction.

The head of a Barelvi seminary in Lahore said the message of tolerance he tries to teach to his students can’t compete with the fiery oratory they hear online from Mr. Rizvi.

An accusation of heresy in Pakistan can trigger a mob: In April, a university student who described himself as a humanist was beaten to death by other students in the northwest of the country. A later police investigation found no blasphemy had been committed by the student.

In the November protests in Islamabad, Mr. Rizvi’s group won concessions including the resignation of the law minister and positions for group representatives on the education boards that decide on the contents of school textbooks.

An editorial in Dawn, a leading daily newspaper, described the agreement as “a surrender so abject that the mind is numb and the heart sinks.”

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday said the deal “was not desirable but there was little choice,” as religious riots would have followed.

Members of Mr. Sharif’s party privately accuse the powerful military, which has long allied itself with radical religious clerics, of backing Mr. Rizvi’s protest to further weaken an administration that has been critical of the armed forces. The military didn’t respond to a request for comment, but has in recent years insisted it no longer interferes in politics.

Related

  • Pakistanis Throng Funeral of Man Hanged for Killing Critic of Blasphemy Laws
  • Curfews, Obligatory Prayers, Whippings: Hard-Line Islam Emerges in Indonesia
  • Pakistani Government’s Deal With Islamist Protesters Signals Weakening Stance

The blasphemy laws apply to Muslims and non-Muslims in Pakistan. In Punjab province, Mr. Sharif’s home region and the place where most blasphemy cases are registered, between 2011 and November 2017 there were 1,572 blasphemy charges filed, according to police figures.

The number of cases in Punjab had dropped after 2015 because of a procedural change that means only a senior police officer can now register a case, provincial officials said. A band of lawyers has organized to bring blasphemy prosecutions pro bono.

The blasphemy wave has spread watchfulness and paranoia. Cases are often concocted to settle personal scores, human-rights groups said.

Pakistan’s telecoms regulator has twice this year sent text messages to all cellphone users asking citizens to report blasphemy committed online. This year, a Muslim man was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court over a blasphemous Facebook post.

A professor of Urdu literature is currently on trial for blasphemy for asking his class, in a lesson on a poem on a religious theme, to consider whether the Quran’s description of heaven was to be taken literally or metaphorically.

“In my religion, there isn’t any room for ‘free speech’,” said Rao Abdul Rahim, an Islamabad-based lawyer who specializes in prosecuting alleged blasphemers.

Write to Saeed Shah at saeed.shah@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/drive-to-halt-insults-against-islam-gains-political-clout-in-pakistan-1512216000

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Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan an Islamist political party, attends Friday prayers during a sit-in in Rawalpindi, Pakistan November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood Reuters

Pakistan Calls A Halt To Anti-Protest Operation After 7 Killed, 260 Injured

November 26, 2017

After bloodshed, police backed off protesters calling for a government minister’s resignation

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—An operation to clear a protest by Islamist activists in the capital was on hold Sunday morning after at least seven people were killed and 260 injured Saturday when protesters clashed with police and paramilitary forces.

The protesters continued to block a major road between Islamabad and the adjacent city of Rawalpindi, with new numbers joining their ranks, according to government officials and the protesters. The activists, who are calling for the resignation of a minister they say is responsible for an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, have now blocked the road for more than two weeks.

Private television news channels were taken off the air and access to some social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, were blocked Saturday and remained suspended Sunday.

While the government called in the army to help restore order as the violence threatened to spiral out of control Saturday, it was unclear Sunday whether soldiers had deployed. Tension between the government and the army was already running high before the government attempted to remove the Islamist activists.

The crackdown in the capital sparked protests by sympathizers elsewhere in the country, including Karachi and Lahore, its two biggest cities. Those continued Sunday with sit-ins on roads.

Some 8,000 police and paramilitary personnel carried out the operation in Islamabad on Saturday with tear gas, baton charges and more than 140 arrests, officials said. But they couldn’t dislodge the protesters.

It was unclear when and where protesters were killed. Some had bullet wounds, according to hospital doctors.

A sit in on an Islamabad street was quiet on Sunday after bloody clashes the day before.Photo: Anjum Naveed/Associated Press

The operation was suspended Saturday night, according to security officials and Pakistan Television, the state-owned broadcaster. PTV reported Sunday that the operation was on hold “for the time being,” with paramilitary forces and police deployed some distance from the protesters.

The demonstrators say they are there to protect the dignity of the Prophet Muhammad, after legislation proposed a change in the oath that members of parliament take to swear that Muhammad was the final prophet. They have demanded the resignation of the law minister, Zahid Hamid, whom they blame for the change.

Security officials said privately that the army is wary of being dragged into the controversy, and that the army isn’t designed for riot control. The military didn’t respond to requests for comment on Sunday, but on Saturday it called for the situation be resolved peacefully.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had said Saturday that government was following court orders to clear the route between Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

“The last thing Pakistan needs is the instigation of agitation using people’s religious sentiment,” said Mr. Iqbal said Saturday.

The protesters are from the mainstream Barelvi sect of Islam and organized around a group called Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, which formed a political party in recent weeks. It campaigns on the issue of keeping in place Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws, which carry the death penalty for anyone insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Ejaz Ashrafi, a spokesman for the group, said large numbers of people were present Sunday morning at the protest site, including their leader, Khadim Rizvi. Reporters at the site estimated the numbers at about 3,000. He said they are sticking to their demand for the minister to resign.

The South Asian nation’s democracy has been in a precarious position since the ousting of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier this year. The country, a U.S. ally, has been abuzz for months with speculation about the fall of the government and the possibility that elections due next year will be postponed.

Mr. Sharif, whose party remains in office, has repeatedly pointed at the military establishment as the force behind his removal.

Write to Saeed Shah at saeed.shah@wsj.com

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Islamist protesters clash with Pakistan police for second day — At least 6 dead, 25 wounded

November 26, 2017

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) – Islamist party activists on Sunday clashed with security forces for a second day on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, burning vehicles before withdrawing to a protest camp they have occupied for more than two weeks, police said.

Image result for Islamabad, burning vehicles, photos

Pakistani police officer aims his gun towards the protesters next to a burning police vehicle during a clash in Islamabad Pakistan.|PTI

According media reports at least six people were killed on the previous day, when several thousand police and paramilitary tried to disperse a sit-in protest by the religious hard-liners, who have blocked the main route into the capital from the neighboring garrison city of Rawalpindi.

More than 125 people were wounded in Saturday’s failed crackdown, and police superintendent Amir Niazi said 80 members of the security forces were among the casualties.

On Sunday morning, smoke billowed from the charred remains of a car and three motorcycles near the protest camp, where several thousand members of the Tehreek-e-Labaid party have gathered in defiance.

Police and paramilitary forces had surrounded the camp in the Faizabad district between the two cities, but no army troops were on the scene, despite a call the night before by the civilian government for the military to help restore order.

”We will move when we have orders,“ Niazi, the police superintendent, said on Saturday. ”What the protesters did yesterday was in no means was lawful. They attacked our forces.”

Pakistani residents walk past a burning prison van torched by protesters during clashes with police in Rawalpindi on November 25. (AFP)

Activists from Tehreek-e-Labaik have blocked the main road into the capital for two weeks, accusing the law minister of blasphemy against Islam and demanding his dismissal and arrest.

“We are in our thousands. We will not leave. We will fight until end,” Tehreek-e-Labaik party spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters on Saturday.

Tehreek-e-Labaik is one of two new ultra-religious political movements that became prominent in recent months.

While Islamist parties are unlikely to win a majority they could play a major role in elections that must be held by summer next year.

Tehreek-e-Laibak was born out of a protest movement lionizing Mumtaz Qadri, a bodyguard of the governor of Punjab province who gunned down his boss in 2011 over his call to reform strict blasphemy laws.

The party won a surprisingly strong 7.6 percent of the vote in a by-election in Peshawar last month.

Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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Pakistan government calls in army as Islamist protests spread

November 25, 2017

AFP

© Aamir Qureshi, AFP | An injured activist from the Tehreek-i-Labaik Yah Rasool Allah Pakistan (TLYRAP) religious group is carried away from clashes with police in Islamabad on November 25, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-11-25

Pakistan’s government on Saturday called on the army to help clear a sit-in by Islamist hard-liners blockading the capital after police clashed with activists and religious protests spread to other cities.

Dozens of people were injured in Saturday’s clashes, including many police, according to reports from hospitals. Protesters said four of their activists had been killed, but police said there had been no deaths.

By nightfall, protests spread to other main cities with activists brandishing sticks and attacking cars in some areas.

 TV: Army summoned to disperse Islamist sit-ins https://apnews.com/5bb41063b66c4efd87159c3c161bf3df 

https://storage.googleapis.com/afs-prod/media/media:985be8dd0e9a42b39d6e73b6899b282f/800.jpeg

Pakistani police launch operation to clear Islamist rally

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Police launched an operation to clear an intersection linking the Pakistani capital Islamabad with the garrison city of Rawalpindi where an Islamist group’s suppo

apnews.com

New demonstrators had joined the camp in Faizabad, just outside Islamabad, in a stand-off with police.

Private TV stations were ordered off the air, with only state-run television broadcasting.

Activists from Tehreek-e-Labaik, a new hard-line Islamist political party, have blockaded the main road into the capital for two weeks, accusing the law minister of blasphemy against Islam and demanding his dismissal and arrest.

“We are in our thousands. We will not leave. We will fight until end,” Tehreek-e-Labaik party spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters by telephone from the scene.

Tehreek-e-Labaik is one of two new ultra-religious political movements that have risen up in recent months and seem set to play a major role in elections that must be held by summer next year, though they are unlikely to win a majority.

Chaos and “conspiracy”

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal told Reuters in a message on Saturday night that the government had “requisitioned” the military assistance “for law and order duty according to the constitution”.

The ruling party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif – who was disqualified by the Supreme Court in July and is facing a corruption trial – has a fraught history with the military, which in 1999 launched a coup to oust Sharif from an earlier term.

Earlier in the day, Iqbal said the protests were part of a conspiracy to weaken the government, which is now run by Sharif’s allies under a new prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

“There are attempts to create a chaos in (the) country,” Iqbal said on state-run Pakistan TV.

“I have to say with regret that a political party that is giving its message to people based on a very sacred belief is being used in the conspiracy that is aimed at spreading anarchy in the country,” Iqbal added, without saying who he considered responsible.

Pakistan’s army chief on Saturday called on the civilian government to end the protest while “avoiding violence from both sides”. Opposition leader Imran Khan called for early elections, saying the “incompetent and dithering” administration had allowed a breakdown of governance.

The clashes began on Saturday when police launched an operation involving some 4,000 officers to disperse around 1,000 activists and break up their camp, police official Saood Tirmizi told Reuters.

Television footage showed a police vehicle on fire, heavy curtains of smoke and fires burning in the streets as officers in heavy riot gear advanced. Protesters, some wearing gas masks, fought back in scattered battles across empty highways and surrounding neighbourhoods.

The protesters have paralysed daily life in the capital, and have defied court orders to disband.

Tehreek-e-Labaik blames the law minister, Zahid Hamid, for changes to an electoral law that changed a religious oath proclaiming Mohammad the last prophet of Islam to the words “I believe”, a change the party says amounts to blasphemy.

The government put the issue down to a clerical error and swiftly changed the language back.

Tehreek-e-Laibak was born out of a protest movement lionizing Mumtaz Qadri, a bodyguard of the governor of Punjab province who gunned down his boss in 2011 over his call to reform strict blasphemy laws.

The party won a surprisingly strong 7.6 percent of the vote in a by-election in Peshawar last month.

More join protests

The government had tried to negotiate an end to the sit-in, fearing violence during a crackdown similar to 2007, when clashes between authorities and supporters of a radical Islamabad mosque led to the deaths of more than 100 people.  Despite the police crackdown, the protesters were largely still in place by nightfall and Tehreek-e-Labaik leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a prominent cleric, remained at the site, party activist Mohammad Shafiq Ameeni said.

Four protesters had died in the police crackdown, he added.

By late afternoon, Tehreek-e-Labaik supporters were coming out on the streets in other Pakistani cities in support.

Police fired tear gas in Karachi, the southern port that is Pakistan’s largest city, to try to disperse about 500 demonstrators near the airport.

Outside the northwestern city of Peshawar, about 300 protesters blocked the motorway to Islamabad and started attacking vehicles with stones and sticks.

In the eastern city of Lahore, party supporters blocked three roads into the city.

(Reuters)

Court issues arrest warrants for Pakistani finance minister

October 30, 2017

Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. (REUTERS File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: The anti-corruption court in Islamabad on Monday issued arrest warrants for Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar as he failed to appear before the court.

The hearing was scheduled for Monday morning, but he missed the hearing as he was in London for a medical check-up.

Dar could avoid arrest by paying bail, but if he declines to do so, the judge could convert the warrant into a non-bailable one.

Since the start of the case, Dar has appeared before the accountability court seven times. Lawyers say he has been given the option of paying bail to ensure his presence.

Dar’s counsel had applied for his exemption from appearing before the court, but Judge Muhammad Bashir dismissed the plea and ordered Dar to appear on Nov. 2 for the next hearing.

Ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Dar were indicted earlier this month. Both pled not guilty to charges of corruption.

Pakistan: Accountability Court reserves verdict on Nawaz’s exemption from appearance in court

October 9, 2017
October 9, 2017
By: Samaa Web Desk

NEWS DESK: After hearing arguments on an application filed by Nawaz Sharif seeking permanent exemption from appearance in the court, the accountability court reserved its verdict on Monday.

When the court asked Sharif’s counsel, Khawaja Harris, whether he was requesting exemption from today’s hearing only, the lawyer responded that his client had gone to London to look after his ailing wife and he should therefore be granted permanent exemption. The lawyer further added that Nawaz cannot appear before the accountability court for the next 15 days at least.

Meanwhile, the NAB prosecution asked the court to issue arrest warrants for Sharif, who they said had left for London, despite being a primary accused, without informing NAB authorities.

Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Bashir reserved his decision on this matter as well.

https://www.samaa.tv/pakistan/2017/10/accountability-court-reserves-verdict-nawazs-exemption-appearance-court/

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Pakistan’s Ex-Prime Minister Fails to Appear in Court for Corruption Trial

Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law, a co-defendant, was arrested after returning from London

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan’s former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, failed to appear before an antigraft tribunal on Monday, where he was to be indicted on corruption charges along with several family members and co-defendants.

One of the co-defendants in the case—Mr. Sharif’s son-in-law, Mohammad Safdar—was arrested at Islamabad airport, after he and his wife, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, arrived from London, cabinet minister Tallal Chaudry said.

Meanwhile, authorities arrested Sharif’s son-in-law, also a co-defendant in the case. The son-in-law, Mohammad Safdar was taken into custody at the Islamabad airport after he and his wife, Maryam Nawaz, arrived from London, said Cabinet minister Talal Chaudhry.

Amid tight security, police later brought Safdar before the anti-graft tribunal, called Accountability Court, where he appeared alongside his wife.

The corruption charges against Sharif, his two sons, daughter and son-in-law stem from an investigation into documents leaked from a Panama law firm that showed the Sharifs had undisclosed assets abroad.

Chaudhry, the Cabinet minister, told reporters that Safdar and his wife had returned to Pakistan “to appear before the court as they believe in the rule of law.”

Sharif is currently in London with his wife Kulsoom Nawaz, who is said to be recovering from throat cancer surgery.

The Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from office in July, forcing him to step down over corruption allegations and undisclosed assets. Sharif has denied any wrongdoing. He and some of his party leaders have claimed there are “hidden hands” behind his dismissal and spate of corruption cases.

Last week, Sharif appeared before the anti-corruption court but the tribunal had to delay his indictment after his children, who are co-defendants in the case, failed to appear before Judge Mohammad Bashir.

Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris on Monday requested that the judge exempt Sharif from appearing. The judge reserved his decision on the request but granted Sharif’s daughter and her husband bail. He also adjourned the case till Oct. 13.

Pakistan’s Ousted PM Nawaz Sharif Elected Again as Party President — Sharif’s re-election as party chief makes him a national leader again — “He is the symbol of economic development in Pakistan”

October 3, 2017

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s ruling party on Tuesday re-elected ousted premier Nawaz Sharif as its leader, saying he was “back with full force”, a day after using its parliamentary majority to amend a law to allow him to re-take the job.

Image result for Nawaz Sharif, October 3, 2017, photos

Jafar Iqbal, who headed a five-member election body, said Sharif had been elected party president unopposed by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PML-N) central executive committee.

Sharif resigned as prime minister in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him for not declaring a source of income. He was also forced to step down as president of PML-N, though he kept control of the party and installed Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a loyalist, as prime minister.

Sharif’s re-election as party chief brings him back into the political fold, he said, contradicting those who thought he would no longer be relevant.

“There have been attempts again and again to exit me, but you will always keep giving me an entry again and again,” Sharif told party workers after his election. “I congratulate that you’re bringing Nawaz Sharif back with full force.”

No one came forward to contest Sharif, Iqbal said amid clapping, thumping and slogans in support of Sharif in televised proceedings of the election in Islamabad. The former prime minister will lead the party for four years.

“Nawaz Sharif is the symbol of economic development in Pakistan,” Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said in his address to the party members.

Parliament amended a law on Monday to enable Sharif to re-take the PML-N leadership. Opposition lawmakers tore up paper copies of the Election Bill 2017, passed by the Senate last week, that allowed Sharif to become the party president again.

The vote was more of a formality as PML-N has a vast majority.

Sharif has appeared before an anti-corruption court and is expected to be indicted next week, along with three of his children.

The veteran leader denies any wrongdoing and has alleged there was a conspiracy against him, with senior PML-N figures pointing fingers at elements of Pakistan’s powerful military.

The army denies playing a role.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has re-elected former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as the party’s president for a period of four years.

The formal announcement was made at the party’s general council meeting at Convention Centre, Islamabad by the PML-N’s chief election commissioner Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal.

Nawaz has been elected unopposed as no one else contested against him.

Earlier, during the intra-party election, Nawaz’s nomination papers were submitted by State Minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

Senior PML-N leaders, including Nawaz, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif are present at the event.

Party leaders are addressing the gathering of scores of party workers and leaders, after which Nawaz is expected to address the gathering.

PML-N leaders at the general council meeting. Photo: Geo News

On Monday, the PML-N central working committee approved an amendment to the party’s constitution, paving Nawaz’s way to lead the party following his disqualification from the Supreme Court.

As Nawaz was deemed not fit to be in Parliament, as per the country and party’s laws, he also had to let go of his presidentship of the PML-N.

However, according to the PML-N, the amendment to the party manifesto aims at getting rid of ‘dictator’s remnants’.

In the meeting of the central working committee, headed by the party’s interim president Senator Sardar Yaqub Nasir at Punjab House, on Monday, the committee unanimously accepted the amendment.

The party leaders expressed confidence and reaffirmed their trust on the party leader. They also paid tribute to the former prime minister for his services during his tenure.

PML-N amends party constitution, allows disqualified member to lead party

The intra-party election is being held after the National Assembly on Monday passed the Elections Bill 2017, paving way for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to regain chairmanship of the ruling party.

The bill was also ratified by President Mamnoon Hussain.

A controversial clause in the bill — which was heavily criticised by the opposition — allows politicians disqualified from holding public office to lead political parties.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/160904-pml-n-to-elect-nawaz-as-party-president-today