Creeping hatred – 31 Jan 2023

Europe seems to be having a particularly anti-Muslim moment. Not that the continent was known for ‘tolerating’ religious expression and freedom when it comes to Islam, but recent days have seen an alarming rise in cases of deliberate provocation by individuals looking to unleash their inner hatred and prejudice against Muslims. The latest crime directed against Muslims – which some have called another example of blatant Islamophobia – comes from Rasmus Paludan, a Danish-Swedish far-right activist who seems to hold an immense hatred for Muslims and their faith. He had already made headlines this month for having desecrated the Quran in Sweden outside the Turkish embassy.

This is not the first incident of its kind in Europe and going by how European governments and citizens have reacted over the years to such acts this will not change unless there is an effort on the part of governments and rights organizations to understand that cultural and religious differences are a diversity to be celebrated not shunned, mocked, and offended. For a continent which prides itself on equal status for all and on its secular values – which favour freedom and equality for all, regardless of race, religion, gender etc – this is such a disappointing comedown.

Apart from the rather complex Nato argument in the case of Sweden – which has been seen as being one of the factors involved in the hate-filled act – there is also a need to look into questions of asylum and immigration and the resentment against people from Muslim countries entering Europe. Ironically, those seeking asylum come from countries that stand ravaged due to the machinations of countries in Europe and the US. There is also the idea of ‘the other’. Muslims, in particular, are seen as somehow not quite the same as those who live in these countries – whether it be the colour of their skin, their language, or their religion. This is a very real problem, making life more and more difficult for Muslims living in Europe and other countries. It also makes the world an uglier place. A conversation about Islamophobia, where the West listens to the voices of Muslims it has treated so badly, needs to begin and it needs to be heard not just in the corridors of power but by all those who have fallen for demagoguery against Muslims and allowed their irrational fear to cloud their judgement.

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Constitutional amendments – 31 Jan 2023

By Dr Naazir Mahmood

In 1975, with the National Awami Party (NAP) banned and all its properties and funds forfeited, the consequences of the early constitutional amendments came to the fore. While drafting the amendments, the Bhutto government had carefully selected every word to support its future actions.

The federal government was bent upon destroying the democratic forces that could stand up to the anti-democratic right-wing outfits that ultimately toppled ZA Bhutto. When the Supreme Court of Pakistan heard the case, the then chief justice Hamoodur Rahman – who had earned a respectable name in his judicial career and as the head of the Hamoodur Rahman Commission – mysteriously overruled Wali Khan’s objections against two judges on the bench who were well-known for their proximity to the prime minister.

It is surprising that a man of Rahman’s calibre – who himself hailed from the erstwhile East Pakistan and had closely observed the consequences of declaring political leaders as traitors – was unable to see the ruse behind the amendments. Even if Wali Khan and some of his colleagues were to receive sentences, the entire NAP political leadership and the party that had a major role in the struggle for the dissolution of ‘One Unit’ and restoration of democracy against military dictatorships became a target of the amendments. The amendments ended the NAP with ruthless force, and justice Hamoodur Rahman upheld these actions.

While the Supreme Court’s acceptance of press reports and intelligence officers’ statements as admissible still remains questionable, the court’s observation that Pakistan comprised just one nation and did not have any nationalities was purely statist and centrist, especially when Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman himself had investigated the fallout of such assertions in East Pakistan. He tarnished his otherwise impressive career with this major judgment. There was not a single note of dissent against the constitutional amendments. All judges were unanimous that the NAP was indeed a threat to this country.

Justice Hamoodur Rahman retired in October 1975, just two days after delivering his ignominious verdict that dealt a severe blow to democracy in the country under the guise of constitutional amendments. He had served for seven years under two military dictators and a civilian ruler. One wonders how Wali Khan was freed within weeks after ZA Bhutto’s illegal removal and Gen Ziaul Haq’s ascendency to power. Though Gen Zia became a self-proclaimed defender of Pakistan’s ideology, he saw no contradiction in the release of Wali Khan whose party was declared as anti-state by the SC.

Justice Yaqoob Ali became the new chief justice of the SC. He took his oath on Nov 1, 1975; and the fourth amendment to the constitution was passed the same month, which curtailed the jurisdiction of courts. This amendment also curtailed the writ jurisdiction of the high courts under Article 199 in cases of preventive detentions. Now the courts could not grant bail to a person or prohibit such detention. Through a presidential ordinance all office bearers of the NAP stood disqualified from memberships of the national and provincial assemblies.

With a parallel ordinance, the government established special courts to try anyone it accused of anti-state activities. After these amendments and ordinances came into force, no high court had the jurisdiction to come to the aid of political victims and grant bail. The government handled the entire process of the fourth amendment cleverly by highlighting the other two positive elements of the amendments to dilute the more destructive ones. The government said that through the fourth amendment it had allocated six special seats to minorities in the National Assembly.

Minority seats also increased in the Punjab Assembly from three to five. The security staff of the National Assembly physically removed the opposition members who wanted a discussion on the proposed amendment, especially regarding limiting the powers of the courts. These opposition leaders included big names like Maulana Mufti Mehmood, Prof Ghafoor Ahmed, and Mahmud Ali Kasuri. After their removal, parliament passed the fourth amendment without any opposition. Interestingly, the PPP had a majority in parliament and it could have passed the amendment without resorting to use of force, but perhaps it wanted to be remembered for its notoriety.

In September 1976, the Bhutto government passed the fifth amendment widening the scope of restrictions on courts. The period of separation of judiciary from the executive increased from three to five years. The maximum tenure of the chief justices of the SC and high courts also became fixed as five and four years respectively. Now high courts could not issue any order subject to Articles 175 (2) and 199. The government could transfer the judges of the high courts without their consent to another high court, and that too without giving any reason.

If a high court judge refused to accept an appointment, the government could force them to retire under the fifth amendment. Even the chief justice could not intervene or give any advice or consultation in this matter. The fifth amendment altered 16 articles and the First Schedule of the constitution. For the first time the judges faced the consequences of the fifth amendment. Now the chief justice’s term in office was not solely dependent on age but also on a fixed period.

It was evident that the government wanted to secure certain changes in some of the appointments. The government sugarcoated this amendment as well by establishing separate high courts for Sindh and Balochistan and highlighting it more prominently than the restrictions on the high court jurisdiction to grant interim bails. Abdul Hafeez Pirzada was the federal education minister and he vociferously attacked the judiciary for encroaching upon the legislative and executive functions; sounds familiar? He believed if the judiciary deviated from the constitution it would be subversion and high treason – again familiar, isn’t it?

With this amendment in place, the judges were constantly under threat of transfer if they did not oblige government functionaries. Even the high court chief justices could not refuse their elevation to the SC for fear of compulsory retirement; the fifth amendment totally subdued and tamed the superior judiciary. The chief justices of the Lahore and Peshawar high courts, Justice Sardar Iqbal (father-in-law of Ayaz Sadiq) and Justice Ghulam Safdar Shah, had to quit after completing their four-year terms even when they had not reached the age of superannuation.

After Justice Safar Iqbal’s retirement, Justice Maulvi Mushtaq was the most senior judge of the Lahore High Court but the government bypassed him to appoint Justice Aslam Riaz Hussain as the chief justice. This cost Bhutto dearly; when Justice Mushtaq used insufficient evidence to sentence him to death after his unconstitutional removal from power by General Zia.

The Bhutto government introduced its penultimate amendment in Dec 1976 – the sixth amendment – in the last session before the general elections. The main content of the amendment was about extension in the tenure of justices of the SC and high courts beyond the retirement age of 65 and 62 respectively.

This amendment specifically gave a chance to Chief Justice Yaqoob Ali to continue after his superannuation in mid-1977, as he had not completed his term in office for five years.

To be continued

The writer holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK. He tweets @NaazirMahmood and can be reached at:

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Police Lines bombing – 31 Jan 2023

MONDAY`S savage bombing targeting a mosque in Peshawar`s Police Lines is a disturbing reminder of the havoc the proscribed T TP is capable of, as well as a tragic illustration of the failed policy of suing for peace with the terrorist group. In the TTP`s worldview, either the state accepts their unreasonable demands, or gets ready to face murderous rampages like the mosque bombing. It is also a fatal security lapse in what is supposed to be one of the most well-protected parts of the KP capital, bringing back memories of last year`s Koocha Risaldar bombing in the same city. That atrocity was carried out by IS-K. Monday`s bloodbath has reportedly been claimed by the Mohmand faction of the TTP, apparently as `revenge` for the killing of Omar Khalid Khorasani in Afghanistan last August.

That notorious militant had at different times been associated with IS-K, Jamaatul Ahrar, as well as the TTP.

KP has been bearing the brunt of the terrorist onslaught ever since the TTP renounced their truce with the state late last year.

While attacks mainly targeting law-enforcement personnel have been occurring with regular frequency, the Police Lines bombing is surely a major escalation, considering the high body count, specifically targeting the policemen and army troops that were offering prayers in the mosque. Sadly, the needed response from the political leadership, treasury and opposition included, as well as the security establishment to the TTP threat, has been lacking. Politically, the nation has been witnessing paralysis over the past several months, with the PDM and PTI gunning for each other in a destructive battle of nerves. Meanwhile, there exist caretaker governments in KP and Punjab, while policymaking is largely frozen, mainly due to questions about when general elections will be held, as the economy nosedives. This `perfect storm` presents an ideal opportunity for the TTP and others of theirilk to strike at the state.

It is welcome that the prime minister and the interior minister rushed to Peshawar following the tragedy, while the outrage was condemned across the political spectrum. However, more than `thoughts and prayers`, what is required now is action. At least where the menace of terrorism is concerned, the government and opposition need to close ranks and put up a united front, working with the security forces to plan and execute a resultoriented counterterrorism strategy. The foreign minister has said the National Action Plan is the only solution to neutralise the terrorist threat. There can be little disagreement with this, which is why political forces and the establishment need to put all their energies into implementing NAP. Intelligence-based operations should be launched to uproot the terrorist infrastructure, particularly their sympathisers and support system. Too much precious blood of our security men and civilians has been shed to let the ogre of terrorism reanimate itself.

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Alleged fraudsters netted – 30 Jan 2023

Accused used to call the customers, asking them to transfer the funds by posing as bank representatives

The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Islamabad Cybercrime Circle has arrested six suspects of two alleged gangs involved in defrauding citizens by posing as bank representatives and police officers.

The FIA team arrested Akbar Ali, Muhammad Ismail, Muhammad Habib and Abdul Ghaffar in a raid in Islamabad.

The accused used to call the customers, asking them to transfer the funds by posing as bank representatives.

The accused stole Rs0.3 million from the accounts of various citizens.

In another operation, the accused named Haider Ali and Ali Raza were arrested from Islamabad.

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‘Cut expenses, don’t burden the people’ – 30 Jan 2023

Nasreen Jalil suggested cutting off perks to officers and levying agriculture income tax.

Opposition political parties, trade and transport bodies have rejected the recent massive increase in the prices of petroleum products.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement Deputy Convener Nasreen Jalil said that it is very cruel to put the entire burden on the people to get the country out of economic difficulties. She suggested cutting perks of to officers and levying agriculture income tax.

Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) General Secretary Sardar Abdur Haim said that instead of reducing its lavish spending and luxury the corrupt coalition government is dropping the inflation bomb on the people.

Sindh United Party and Convener Sindh Action Committee Syed Jalal Mahmood Shah said that the corrupt government is putting the burden of its corruption on the people.

The poor people in the country are being forced to starve and commit suicide.

All Pakistan Anjuman Tajran (APAT) President Ajmal Baloch, in a statement, termed the fresh hike in petroleum the last nail in the coffin of the country’s economy.

Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Atiq Mir said the fuel price hike will unleash a storm of hyperinflation pressing people already crushed under high prices.

PTI MPA and Pakistan Goods Transport Alliance President Malik Shahzad Awan said it has become impossible for them to operate their businesses profitably.

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Software engineer among six suspected robbers arrested – 30 Jan 2023

The arrested suspects were involved in dozens of cases of snatching mobile phones and cash

Bilal Colony and Sir Syed Police in a joint operation arrested six suspected robbers including a graduate software engineer who is expert in cracking mobile phone passwords, IMEI numbers and making PTA blocked sets workable.

The arrested suspects were involved in dozens of cases of snatching mobile phones and cash within the limits of various police stations of district Central, police claimed.

At least six 30-bore pistols and 15 snatched mobile phones, laptops, computers and cash were recovered from the suspects, police said. Software engineer Ata Ullah told the police that he unlocks blocked sets by overriding the IMEI numbers. Moreover, he confessed to making smuggled handsets PTA approved. The university graduate instead of using his software skills for earning a decent livelihood was working as a ‘VIP doctor’ for gangs of snatchers bringing blocked and locked handsets to him.

Also among the suspects were Sattar Jamali and Didar, residents Garhi Yasin. They robbed citizens leaving the bank with cash, while their accomplice Amir drove a rickshaw and conducted recce of targets.

Amir would sit on watch outside bank branches in his rickshaw and call Jamali and Didar on mobile phone whenever he saw a likely target. The suspects had snatched Rs0.7 million from a citizen near Yusuf Plaza in Sachal and Rs1.2 million from another victim in Bilal Colony.

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Youth festival ends with grandeur – 30 Jan 2023

Notable singers, artists performed on the last day of festival

The seven-day Pakistan Youth Festival at the Arts Council of Pakistan (ACP) Karachi concluded with a colourful ceremony on Sunday.

The closing ceremony was graced with the presence of Minister of Culture and Education Sardar Ali Shah, while President of Arts Council Muhammad Ahmad Shah and members of the governing body were also present on the occasion.

The last day of the festival was inaugurated with a spectacular musical performance by the renowned Jambroz Band, while cash prizes and awards were distributed to the winners of ten different categories of competitions. Two special competitions in painting and photography were also held at the event.

On the occasion, awards were given to the special children, who participated in the special children’s event organised at the festival.

While speaking at the closing ceremony of the Pakistan Youth Festival, Minister of Culture and Education Sardar Ali Shah said that 64 per cent of Pakistan’s population consists of youth. He said that unfortunately, there are no such policies made for the country’s youth to encourage its talent. The Pakistan Youth Festival has not only provided a platform to the young generation but also taught them tolerance.

“We need to educate ourselves that our children do not only have to be doctors, engineers or officers, but they can also be Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Atif Aslam and Hadiqa Kayani”, the minister said.

He said that ACP president Ahmed Shah has made a Hub of culture in the Arts Council. He added, “I do not see any institution in the whole country which is working for the promotion of arts and culture”.

Addressing the ceremony, President ACP Muhammad Ahmad Shah said that all the children involved in the Special Children’s Special Festival performed brilliantly. He said that Nighat Chaudhry and Wahab Shah encouraged the children in the dance finals.

“As there is a lack of employment in the country, therefore, the ACP has decided to start providing IT training to the youth in order to generate work opportunities for them”, he said.

Shah said that the institute also plans to conduct competitions on various dimensions of arts to engage the youth of the city in positive activity.

On the festival’s last day, Ali Azmat, Sahir Ali Bagga, Ahmed Jahanzeb, Natasha Baig, Wahab Bugti, Ahsan Bari, Arman Rahim and Afaq Adnan lit up the evening with the magic of their voices and received applause from the audience.

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Two suicide bombers blow themselves up during CTD op in Swabi – 30 Jan 2023

One of the terrorist arrested, transferred to an unknown location

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up during a counter-terrorism department (CTD) operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) Swab district.

According to the police, the CTD conducted an intelligence-based operation (IBO) after receiving information regarding the presence of militants in the city. As the CTD officers approached suspected hideout, the terrorists opened fire.

A heavy contingent of police surrounded the area and a heavy exchange of fire took place between the law enforcers and the terrorists.

Failing to find an escape route, the two suicide bombers blew themselves up, while one terrorist was arrested and transferred to an unknown location.

In a separate development, the Punjab CTD gunned down two suspected terrorists in a raid near Dera Ghazi Khan and rounded up two others, who had managed to escape during the operation, in Rahim Yar Khan.

Acting on a tip-off, the CTD carried out the raid in Jhangi area of Vehowa tehsil in Taunsa district near Dera Ghazi Khan and killed two suspected terrorists. Their two other accomplices managed to escape taking advantage of the darkness in the area.

However, the CTD conducted a search operation, carrying out raids at 36 different locations and checking 512 people through biometric screening, eventually arresting them both in Rahim Yar Khan within 24 hours.

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Man held on charge of brutalising boy – 30 Jan 2023

SUKKUR: A man was arrested and a search for his several associates was mounted by police after a video showing the man brutally beating up a small boy with a baton and others enjoying the scene went viral on the social media.

The Sukkur police said initial probe suggested that the man with his face covered caught hold of the boy accusing him of stealing some potatoes. According to the voices recorded in the video, the man and his associates were forcing the crying boy to call out his parents and the boy resisting their order and begging for mercy.

The boy was also shown reluctant to hold the mobile phone being given to him. The scene pertained to a locality of Salahpat town, the police claimed.

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Two killed in Attock – 30 Jan 2023

TAXILA: Two persons died while a couple was injured in three different incidents in various parts of Attock on Sunday.

In the first incident, a man was tortured to death for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran in village Surug in the jurisdiction of Pindigheb police station.

Police said that the suspect allegedly desecrated the Holy Quran, a few weeks ago. Separately, the body of a man was found from river Indus near Damaan in the jurisdiction of Hazro police station.

Locals spotted the body of a man floating in the river and informed Rescue 1122 who recovered the body and shifted it to Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) hospital Hazro where the deceased was identified as 37-year-old Sattar Ahmed.

Moreover, a couple sustained serious injuries when their car overturned on Islamabad-Peshawar motorway near Hassanabdal.

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