Posts Tagged ‘Nawaz Sharif’

Pakistan: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif asserted on Tuesday that uncivilised restrictions cannot be placed on anyone — Departed for London

April 18, 2018

Image result for Nawaz Sharif, photos

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif asserted on Tuesday that uncivilised restrictions cannot be placed on anyone in the country.

“The world has changed and so should we. Old mistakes should not be repeated,” he said while talking to reporters inside the accountability court hearing corruption cases against him.

Referring to the Lahore High Court’s Monday verdict banning ‘anti-judiciary’ speeches, the former premier said the court should make clear what ‘anti-judiciary’ means.

“We cannot restrict someone from speaking,” he said, adding that he wanted everyone to go along together.

“Elected governments made historic decisions, including the atomic tests which were completely conducted by the civilian government,” claimed Nawaz.

The three-time prime minister said he does not regret moving on. “We moved on did but not compromise. The other side should have moved on too,” he asserted, terming unfortunate the dharnas (sit-ins) carried out in the country against his government.

He said the National Accountability Bureau is inquiring into the widening of Raiwind Road in 2013 [which leads to Nawaz’s residence], adding that, “in 1990 we started the motorway there should be a case on it too and one over the atomic tests”.

“I see widespread discord if the people’s aspirations are not adhered to,” he said further.

Referring to recent waves of defections within the party, the PML-N supremo said those who left us were never ours. Adding to that, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam said the PML-N has its dedicated vote bank which is not seasonal.

Talking about the government’s plan to merge the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Nawaz said the tribespeople should get their rights.

Includes video:

https://www.geo.tv/latest/191404-world-has-changed-we-shouldnt-repeat-old-mistakes-nawaz

*********************************************

Nawaz Sharif leaves for London

Lahore: Pakistan’s deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, on Wednesday, left for London along with his daughter to see his ailing wife amid speculations that he might not return because of a likely conviction in three corruption cases against him.

As Sharif’s family spokesman did not reveal his return schedule, analysts in Lahore believe that it is likely that Sharif will skip his appearance before a combined investigation team of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Lahore on 21 April.

File image of Nawaz Sharif. AP

File image of Nawaz Sharif. AP

NAB has summoned Sharif for allegedly misusing his authority for illegal construction of a road leading to his Jati Umra, Raiwind residence. Sharif, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court, is due to appear in the accountability court on 23 April in a corruption case. But, it is likely that he may skip it.

“Begum Kulsoom Nawaz has been under treatment in a hospital in London as her condition is serious,” the family spokesperson said, adding that because of her serious condition Sharif and his daughter have to be with her.

Maryam also tweeted about her mother. “My mother is hospitalised again. Remember her in your special prayers. I know prayers can do wonders. Allah answers prayers,” Maryam tweeted.

Kulsoom, last year, had undergone a surgery for lymphoma (throat cancer). Her condition recently deteriorated and she was hospitalised.

Last week, Pakistan prime minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi had shown reluctance to place the names of Nawaz Sharif and his family on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The NAB had asked to include the names of Sharif’s children, Maryam, Hassan and Hussain,  his son-in-law retired on the ECL.

All of them are being tried in accountability courts over the Panama Leaks cases. Sharif’s two sons are already in London. They have been declared proclaimed offenders by the accountability court in the corruption cases against them.

Opposition parties especially the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has criticised the government for not placing the Sharif family on ECL.

“Nawaz Sharif and Maryam left the country at the time when a decision against them by the accountability court is about to come,” Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf senior leader Babar Awan said and claimed that Sharif would not return to the country.

“Nawaz Sharif has left the country on the pretext of his wife’s ailment,” he said.

https://www.firstpost.com/world/nawaz-sharif-leaves-for-london-to-visit-ailing-wife-opposition-speculates-he-might-be-trying-to-flee-pakistan-before-likely-conviction-in-graft-cases-4436497.html

Updated Date: Apr 18, 2018 14:48 PM

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan_Tehreek-e-Insaf

Advertisements

Pakistan: Former PM Nawaz Sharif fears Adiala Jail already being readied for him

April 11, 2018
Updated April 11, 2018
Former PM Nawaz Sharif speaks to reporters alongside his daughter Maryam Nawaz outside the accountability court. — DawnNewsTV
Former PM Nawaz Sharif speaks to reporters alongside his daughter Maryam Nawaz outside the accountability court. — DawnNewsTV

Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday alleged once again that three members of the joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe his family’s business dealings abroad were “are our worst political opponents”, and expressed fears that Adiala Jail was already being prepared for him.

Sharif, along with his daughter Maryam, made the remarks after appearing before an accountability court in Islamabad in a reference concerning his family’s Avenfield properties.

“Bit by bit, the reality of the JIT’s investigative report is being revealed,” he said in his customary talk with the media after the court’s proceedings.

“You know that the facts that went in our favour were [deliberately] hidden by the JIT,” he alleged. “You already know what has come out of Wajid Zia’s mouth and, in a way, he has given us a certificate [of innocence],” he further claimed.

Though the Sharif family has kept up a narrative that Zia, the prosecution’s star witness and head of the JIT, has considerably weakened the case by failing to hold up to cross questioning, the PML-N’s political opponents say the court’s proceedings have been misconstrued by the PML-N to present a distorted picture to give Nawaz’s supporters false hopes.

“A new truth has come to light today,” Sharif said today before alleging that of the six members of the JIT, “three are our worst political opponents. They, or their wives or [other] family members are active members of the PTI,” he claimed.

He chose to exclude the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) representative, Irfan Naeem Mangi, from his list, choosing to stick to criticism of the intelligence agencies’ representatives on the team.

“My case was not a terrorism case. I was doing nothing against the interests of Pakistan. What was the need to include the ISI and MI in the JIT?” he asked.

Khawaja Haris concludes Wajid Zia’s cross-examination

Earlier, Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris had completed his cross-examination of JIT head Wajid Zia in the Avenfield refence, ten days after he began examining the witness.

Maryam Nawaz’s counsel, Amjad Parvez, has now taken over from him.

During the examination, Zia had said that the team did not maintain a daily diary of its proceedings as it had been ordered by the Supreme Court to submit a report every 15 days.

He further stated that the JIT had not been conducting a criminal investigation but had the powers to conduct an investigation according to the Criminal Procedures Code (CrPC), the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and under the powers given to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

He revealed that while confidential matters were reviewed only by JIT members, the JIT secretariat had a staff of between 30 and 40 people. This included security guards, record typists and cook.

The JIT also took assistance from 30-40 experts who have not been named in the JIT report as the Supreme Court had been requested to keep their names secret. The apex court had not issued any order regarding this, but their names were not revealed in the report, Zia said.

Read: Profiles of JIT members

Zia also elaborated on his professional life, informing that he had joined the public service in 1988 as an assistant superintendent police (ASP). He said that he remained associated with criminal investigations throughout his career.

Earlier, when asked by Haris about whether he knew about JIT member Bilal Rasool being a relative of PML-Q founder and current PTI leader Mian Azhar, Zia replied in the affirmative. But he said he could not say for sure whether Rasool’s wife was appointed as a lawmaker on a special seat by PML-Q or comment on her active association with the PTI.

He also said that he was aware of procedural actions ongoing against Irfan Naeem Mangi, but said he did not know of a committee investigating him on the orders of the Supreme Court.

He said he was unaware of Brigadier Nauman Masood being a source employee of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

He also said it was incorrect to say that the JIT conducted the investigations against the Sharif family in a biased way or with a specific agenda in mind.

‘Do they already know if someone will be coming to Adiala Jail?’

Sharif today also spoke on recent political developments, including a number of defections from the PML-N.

“Those who have been with us for generations will not change their loyalties,” he said. “People will not vote for those who change their loyalties.”

Addressing renewed concerns about the lack of development in south Punjab after PML-N defectors announced they would begin a movement for a new province in the area, Sharif chose to appreciate the work done in the region under his brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s leadership.

More importantly, he engaged with rumours of preparations being made in the infamous Adiala Jail for the arrival of important political personalities.

“House cleaning has already begun in Adiala Jail. Do they know in advance that somebody is coming?” he asked.

He also said that he does not want NAB to influence the upcoming general elections by pressurising candidates before elections. Informal consultations regarding making the body ineffective during the caretaker setup have taken place with the prime minister’s involvement, he revealed

The accountability references against Sharifs — now in their final stages — had been filed on the orders of the Supreme Court as a continuation of the Panamagate affair. The Panama Papers case had earlier resulted in the disqualification of Sharif for holding an undeclared work permit from the UAE. He has since stepped up his criticism of the judiciary, as well as the JIT whose report led to his ouster.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1400953

Conflict Between India and Pakistan — An Update From The Council on Foreign Relations

March 14, 2018

Recent Developments

With continued violence in Kashmir and a heightened threat of terrorist activity by Pakistan-based militant groups, the threat of a serious military confrontation between India and Pakistan remains high. In January 2016, six armed militants attacked an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot (near the border with Pakistan), killing seven Indian security personnel before being killed themselves.

In July 2016, anti-India protests broke out across the Kashmir valley following the death of local militant leader Burhan Wani. Violent demonstrations and protests calling for an independent Kashmir have continued through November 2016, with more than ninety people killed and thousands wounded in the heavy-handed response by Indian security forces.

In September 2016, armed militants attacked a remote Indian Army base in Uri, near the Line of Control, killing eighteen Indian soldiers in the deadliest attack on the Indian armed forces in decades. Indian officials have accused Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad, a group with alleged ties to the Inter-Services Intelligence—Pakistan’s main intelligence agency—of being behind the attack. Later in September 2016, the Indian military announced it had carried out “surgical strikes” on terrorist camps inside Pakistani-controlled territory across the Line of Control, while the Pakistani military denied that any such operation had taken place.

Tensions remain high between the nuclear-armed neighbors. In late October 2016 and again in November 2016, Indian and Pakistani diplomats were each expelled from each other’s countries on charges of espionage, and an uptick in cross-border firing along the Line of Control continued throughout 2017 and into 2018, with military and civilian deaths on both sides.

Background

Territorial disputes over the Kashmir region sparked two of the three major Indo-Pakistani wars in 1947 and 1965, and a limited war in 1999. Although both countries have maintained a fragile cease-fire since 2003, they regularly exchange fire across the contested border. There was an increase in high-profile cease-fire violations beginning in July 2014, and artillery shelling and small arms fire continued through late 2015. Both sides accuse each other of violating the cease-fire and claim to be shooting in retaliation to attacks.

After India’s newly-elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, invited Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend his inauguration, there were hopes that his government would pursue meaningful peace negotiations with Pakistan. However, after a brief period of optimism, relations again turned sour when India canceled talks with Pakistan’s foreign minister in August 2014 after the Pakistani high commissioner in India met with Kashmiri separatist leaders.

In July 2015, Modi and Sharif met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Ufa, Russia, where they issued a joint statement and announced that Modi would travel to Pakistan in 2016 for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit. However, in August 2015, planned high-level talks between national security advisors were called off the night before they were slated to start after Pakistan announced it could not accept India’s precondition that talks only focus on terrorism.

In December 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had an unscheduled meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. This led to a meeting between national security advisors in Bangkok a few days later, where the Kashmir dispute was discussed. Later in December, Prime Minister Modi made a surprise visit to Lahore to meet with Prime Minister Sharif, the first visit of an Indian leader to Pakistan in more than a decade.

Following the Uri attack in September 2016, India announced a boycott of the SAARC summit, planned for November 2016 in Islamabad, citing Pakistan’s alleged involvement and support for terrorism; this boycott was joined by Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Bhutan and led to the summit’s indefinite postponement.

The diversion of jihadi fighters and proxy groups from Afghanistan to Kashmir threatens to further increase violence along the border. If another Mumbai 2008–style attack, where Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters rampaged through the city for four days, killing 164 people, were carried out by Pakistan’s militant proxies, it could trigger a severe military confrontation between the two nuclear-armed states.

Concerns

Having identified South Asia as an epicenter of terrorism and religious extremism, the United States has an interest in ensuring regional stability, preventing nuclear weapons proliferation, and minimizing the potential of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

https://www.cfr.org/interactives/global-conflict-tracker#!/conflict/conflict-between-india-and-pakistan

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

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.

.
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.
.
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.
.
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.
.
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.
.
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.”
.
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.
.
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.
.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, however, said he was optimistic that the assemblies would complete their term.
.
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.”
.
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.
.

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
.

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App

Related:

.
.

.
.
.
.
.

Image may contain: 5 people, people sitting

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

Related:

.
.
.
.
.

Image may contain: 5 people, people sitting

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

.
Related:
.

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

Related:

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)