Minor girl’s killer brought to book

Investigators say the accused was visiting Dijkot when the incident took place.

DIJKOT: One month after the incident, police finally managed to arrest the accused behind the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl.

During the investigation, the accused confessed to killing the girl after raping her. Given the seriousness of the matter, police shifted the accused to a special cell for investigation.

According to police sources, the seven-year-old girl was raped by a young man who came to Chak No. 279 RB one month ago. He lured her under the pretext of bringing something to her.

The girl was suffocated to death after the accused placed his hand on her mouth and nose to suppress her screams. After she died, he dumped her body in the bushes before fleeing the scene and going into hiding.

After the incident was reported, top officers including the Caretaker Chief Minister Punjab, IG Punjab and Chief Secretary Punjab remained in Dijkot for several days.

The City Police Officer formed teams led by police officers including SP CIA Abid Hussain Zafar, DSP Nishatabad Rana Umar Draz, DSP Factory Area Rana Attaur Rehman and former SHO Samanabad Zeeshan Khalid Randhawa. Authorities arrested the accused after a house-to-house search operation.

The arrested accused revealed that he was visiting close relatives in the village and saw the seven-year-old girl playing outside her house near Maghrib.

After luring her, he raped her, upon which she started making noise.

The accused further stated that in order to silence her, he put his hand on his mouth and nose, which suffocated her. Relatives of the murdered girl demanded that the accused should be given strict punishment.

Regional Police Officer (RPO) Dr Abid Khan and City Police Officer (CPO) Muhammad Ali Zia formed teams who were camping in 269 RB for the past week. Although they did not find the accused until Sunday, the police presence led to a reported reduction in crime.

Unfortunately, sexual assaults remain commonplace in Punjab. In March of this year, a married woman was brutally gang-raped by two men in her home in Dijkot.

The incident occurred when the victim was alone at home, and the attackers, identified as Muneer Ahmed and an accomplice, forcibly entered the house and committed the heinous crime.

Also in March, a young girl was gang-raped in Abdullahpur by five people who abducted her and threatened to release a video of her on social media.

The victim’s mother, a resident of Abdullahpur, registered a case with the police after her daughter was abducted while on her way to purchase groceries.

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Triple murder suspect at large

SARGODHA: A man allegedly killed his mother, sister and brother-in-law over a property dispute within the jurisdiction of Bhakkar city police station on Sunday. According to a press release issued by the RPO office, the incident took place in Chamni Mohallah where taxi driver Rana Akram allegedly murdered his three family members. Upon getting information of the incident, police and Rescue 1122 rushed to the spot and shifted the bodies to a hospital for an autopsy. APP

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Man ‘murders’ infant daughter

Suspect allegedly believed that the child was not his.

JARANWALA: Doubting his wife’s character, a man allegedly killed his one-and-a-half-year-old daughter by placing crushing her chest under his foot. Police detained the accused and started an investigation. When questioned, the accused confessed to the murder, revealing that the girl was not his daughter.

According to a police report, Umair Ali, a resident of Ahmad Deen Wali, married Zareena Kausar five years ago. During their marriage, a baby girl was born. One month ago, the accused allegedly tortured his wife and minor daughter and threw them out of the house. Zareena and the child stayed at her parents’ house.

Earlier this week, the accused came to the Zareena’s parents’ house and took his wife and daughter with him at 12:30 in the night. He reportedly argued with his wife again and said that their infant daughter was not his child, insisting that she is someone else’s illegitimate child. The accused, in a rage, allegedly put his foot on the chest of the child while she was sleeping, breaking both of her ribs were broken and preventing her breathing. She died at the scene.

Zareena Kausar informed police about the incident on the 15 helpline, upon which SHO Police Station Saddar Rai Aftab Waseem seized the body of the one-and-a-half-year-old girl and detained Umair, launching an investigation into him. During interrogation, the accused revealed that he killed the girl because he believed that she was an illegitimate child. He further accused his wife of infidelity.

On the statement of Zareena Kausar, the mother of the deceased, police registered a case against the accused under section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code and sent him to lockup.

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HRCP for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

LAHORE: On concluding its biannual meeting, the governing council of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has passed a resolution expressing its deepest apprehension over the ceaseless violence in Gaza.

The resolution says that Israel`s determination to annihilate the civilian population in Gaza, without remorse and without accountability, is simply unaccept able. The fact that Israel has killed over 4,000 children, deliberately targeted hospitals and refugee camps, and imposed a siege that makes access to food, clean water, fuel and medical supplies virtually impossible, signals genocidal intent, it adds.

While Hamas` taking of hostages contravenes international law, the international community must not be lulled into accepting false balances,the resolution asserts.

The moral bankruptcy of the West, the lethargy of Muslim countries that claim to uphold the Palestinian cause and the inability of the United Nations to assert itself are causesforimmense concern for the way that this will shape the world in months to come, the resolution apprehends.

HRCP`s Council calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and urges the international community to use this tragedy to devise and implement a sustained peace process that puts civilians and their rights ahead of military paradigms.

HRCP also stands in solidarity with the hundreds of human rights defenders in the region who continue to monitor and document the situation at enormous risk to themselves, concludes the resolution.Staff Reporter

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Woman abducted in Wah

TAXILA: A married woman was abducted by unknown persons in the limits of Wah Saddar police station on Sunday.

A citizen reported to the police that his 24-year-old wife was abducted by unknown persons when she was alone at her house.

Meanwhile,five armedmenequippedwith pistols snatched a luxury car, a 9mm pistol and a mobile phone from a resident just a few yards away from Taxilapolice station on Sunday.

Sheikh Hashir Rizwan reported to the police that he was parking his car at his house in Wahdat Colony opposite the police station when five persons riding a white car took him hostage at pistol point and snatched his car and other valuables and escaped. Correspondent

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Newly-wed woman found shot dead in Karachi’s DHA apartment

KARACHI: A newly married woman was found shot dead in Defence Housing Authority on Sunday evening, police said.

They said they were investigating as to whether it was a suicide or murder.

DIG-South Syed Asad Raza said that around two-three weeks ago, the woman identified as Quratul Ain aka Aini Bugti, solemnised a civil marriage with a young man on their own free will in Karachi against the wishes of her parents.

The couple was living in an apartment in DHA Phase-VIII from where the body was found.

The officer said in his initial statement, the husband claimed that the woman had committed suicide by shooting herself as their free-will marriage “took an ugly turn”.

The couple orignally hailed from Balochistan.

The body was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre to fulfil medico-legal formalities.

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Democracies and prospective voting

Pakistan is a playground of different political parties for short-term slogans.

Democracy is a complex equation. It seems an easy concept to implement and sustain. From Aristotle to Francis Fukuyama, every single political scientist interprets it based on the popular voting system. The voting system is very decisive in democratic consolidation. Sometimes democracies are entrapped with bad results. Sometimes democracies nurture effective mechanisms to cope with the state framework. It depends on how citizens consider the voting procedures. In developing countries like Pakistan, the voting system is based on patronage and retrospective voting. A retrospective voting system is defined as one in which different identities and social groupings take precedence over policy considerations. Voters chose short-term objectives expectations, and shortcuts like party affiliation or social identity. Such voters in electoral processes are considered myopic voters. Democracies never ripen when retrospective aspects drive voting behaviours.

Pakistan is a playground of different political parties for short-term slogans. Every time before elections, our political leaders drive people to idealistic tendencies. Thus, electoral choices of the public in Pakistan are established on immediate improvements rather than a sustained prosperous future.

Before delving deep into the democratic learning curve, it is apt to mention that democracies prioritise informed decision-making. Our domestic households are the miniature electoral schools. Our parents’ generation adhered to the politics of revolution rather than evolution, and we build these instincts to vote on immediate requirements. If person X who is the head of the family X asked to vote for a particular leader from their clan or ethnicity or social affiliation, our complete procedures are impacted by one-man decision. Such voting system leads towards special interests. Special interests are always vested interests for particular group – something that leads the country to an unsustainable democratic future, and policy inconsistency.

Considering the history as the precedent to learn about the democratic maturity and the intertwining interaction with prospective voting, we can mention how German democracy aligned with international issues through prospective voting. For eg, Energiewende, or energy transition, is a new agenda of German government. People are committed to partnership with forward-looking leaders. Their leaders committed a future of renewable energy sources considering the long-term solution to end fossil fuels, sustained future of humanity and benefits of cleaner energy. People, understanding the long-term vision to deal with climate change and future policy, vote to forward-looking leaders on these qualifications of the visionary choices. This is how prospective voting can be aligned with international issues like climate change through democracy.

In Pakistan, we vote on the basis of incumbent government’s performance, short-term policy and special interests that don’t align with broader public interests. This is why we have sham democratic framework. From family system to institutional makeup, we are inefficient to develop capabilities of critical thinking so that we can carry forward the complex calculations about our decisions in the favour of coming future.

We need to shift our preferences like ending the primacy of social identities or social affiliation for voting. It would be effective to foster ‘our democracy’ by addressing disparities among masses from different socio-political stratifications. It is mandatory to build consensus over the mutual cause of visionary progress.

Finally, Economic Voting is no solution to sustain institutional democracies. We vote on the basis of economic factors like inflation rates, job growth rather than understanding the nuances of economic policies.

The nations that implement prospective voting over retrospective voting embark for glory. Democracies ensure the prosperity only if it deals with maturity. We need visionary leadership and forward-thinking voter bank. In doing so, we alter our democracies into engines of expectancy and creation, where the ballot box develops a vessel for acknowledging the ambitions of generations yet to arrive.

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Manipulating consent

The advent of information technology was rightly hailed as a game-changing development. No other scientific intervention in history has revolutionized the manner of human interaction and thought formation the way the development of information and communication technologies has.

Among other things, it empowered a regular, common person and gave him/her power to shape events. As monopoly on information gave way to its democratization, a regular person could no longer be ignored in the emerging scheme of things. S/he was no more a passive ‘zombie’ ready to be manipulated but a shaper of events who acquired freedom to assert his/her agency to influence decision-making.

While the positive impact of the information revolution is well-documented, the deluge of its harmful effects has begun to overwhelm the entirety of human life. A combination of ongoing global challenges such as proliferating geostrategic conflicts, and natural disasters has provided a fertile ground for the spread of misinformation, fake news and disinformation. In the absence of an agreed-upon code of conduct owned and adhered to by the stakeholders within the information echo system, the dangers of information manipulation are becoming more dire and graver by the day.

Disinformation, fake news and misinformation represent the innovative and unconventional threats to the civilized world. The urgency of dealing with these challenges cannot be overemphasized. As the global crises deepen in the absence of long-term solutions, fake news and disinformation have begun to be deployed strategically. The consequences these strategic campaigns lead to are not just the intended ones; rather as has been witnessed in many instances, they have the potential to bring about outcomes that erode the people’s trust in the governments.

Mercifully, the global conversation has now begun to center on information integrity as a way to deal with and neutralize the harmful effects of disinformation. Efforts are under way at both the national and multilateral levels to achieve some level of uniformity in thinking on countering the spread of disinformation through a code of conduct, which puts the interest of the people at the heart of such endeavours.

However, this is easier said than done. Formulating an agreed-upon code of conduct to ensure information integrity on digital platforms is a stupendous challenge. Those who are wary of such exercises base their opposition on the plea that they are often attempts at ‘regulating’ the generation and flow of information.

While the debate around what constitutes information integrity, including how to set up voluntary mechanisms to uphold it on digital places will remain inclusive, there are certain aspects of this debate that crystalize the need for corrective measures to allow people access to accurate, reliable and authentic information. The following is instructive in this regard:

First: Given its potential to inflict widespread harm, the issue of disinformation, hate speech and fake news needs to be analyzed, debated and addressed from the perspective of human rights. Doing so will inject the urgency, and seriousness into our efforts we need the most to arrive at workable solutions.

Second: Our recent experience suggests that in addition to non-state actors who thrive on a culture of misinformation, state actors too have been found involved in deploying fake news as part of disinformation campaigns to mislead and misinform the international community. The busting of a vast, clandestine disinformation network by EU Disinfo Lab in 2021 indicated the depth and scale of the challenge. Our multilateral forums are more prone to such targeted campaigns.

Third: Allied to this is the more potent threat of muzzling of the freedom of expression when some states choose to impose information blackout, institute digital surveillance and target journalistic voices that dare report the truth. This is done as part of a carefully crafted strategy to play down human rights abuses. There is a need to attend to the denial of the right to freely express oneself especially in occupied territories such as IIOJK, declared so by the UN resolutions. It is important to set parameters that allow the people to distinguish between what is a UN-sanctioned struggle for right to self-determination and what is not. This issue needs to be approached from a non-partisan manner. Fourth: Digital spaces are most vulnerable. There is all the more reason to accelerate our work on formulating a code of conduct to ensure information integrity in digital spaces. There is no denying the fact that it is a difficult task, given the diversity, and complication that such an endeavor presents.

Fifth: Stakeholders run the risk of operating in silos if they don’t work out a mechanism to co-opt the major digital platforms and include their buy-in. The enormity of the challenge is understandable here but without some kind of bridge-building with the tech sector, the desired results may not wholly be achieved.

Sixth: Given the current rate at which hate speech, Islamophobia, racial profiling and discrimination are being spread in traditional media in general and the digital spaces in particular, there are real and present dangers to humanity’s shared values of peace, tolerance, pluralism and respect for diversity. The conditions of social order, stability and the rule of law have not been challenged as before. The ensuing chaos has global implications. While the work done so far to stem the rising tide of xenophobia and hate speech is praiseworthy, a lot more still needs to be done.

Seventh: Digital literacy can be a key factor in increasing the awareness of the people, especially the youth, empowering them to sift fact from fiction. A multilateral effort is needed to formulate modules, guidelines and lessons that can be a starting point to promote digital literacy.

Eighth: The world is saddened by the recent killing of over three dozen journalists in the line of duty in Palestine. More importantly, the reports of some TV channels taking down their anchors presumably due to their faith and known positions on the Israel-Palestine issue are deeply concerning. Add to this the issue of embedded journalism whose most recent manifestation was the spread of “filtered and curated” news by the Israeli army. The multilateral efforts to formulate a unanimous code of conduct should address these aspects of information manipulation.

In conclusion, diligent efforts are needed in effectively conveying information on a broad spectrum of ongoing crises, including critical issues like climate change and natural disasters. These endeavours have underscored the vital role of media outlets as a reliable source of accurate and unbiased information, thus highlighting the need for investment in building their in-house capacity for fact-checking and training the journalists. They can no longer evade this responsibility of stepping up to the plate.

Addressing the scourge of disinformation, fake news and misinformation needs to be assigned the highest priority at multiple levels. In the absence of determined and sustained corrective actions, disinformation will upend the life we have known so far, thus reversing human gains and releasing genies that will be hard to be bottled back.

The starting point in this war on disinformation is to promote awareness by beginning to talk about it.

The writer is an alumnus ofthe University of Sussex and has a degree in international journalism. He tweets/posts @Amanat222

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COP28 in a time of chaos

The raging Israeli violence in Gaza is feared to cast a dark shadow on the upcoming COP28 climate summit as the climate discussions are also not immune to abusive power dynamics and life-destroying events.

The existential threat to humanity in the face of climate change demands consensus rather than division. The horrible humanitarian crisis in Gaza will lead to utter uncertainty over consensus-building efforts which will push crucial global efforts to combat climate change further away, especially the critical support needed by developing countries to manage devastating climate impacts.

The unequivocal US and Western support for Israel’s genocide of the besieged population of Gaza marred efforts to build consensus over global challenges. There is mounting resentment across the Global South over how the US has given carte blanche to Israel to attack Gaza with full force which has been further perpetuated by the Western government’s blanket support to the obliterate human population at enormous scale. The West is being rightly accused of encouraging Israel’s disproportionate use of force to annihilate 2.3 million civilians, including children and women in Gaza.

By siding with the oppressors and persecutors, they have lost all credibility as champions of human rights in the world, as countless citizens can be seen protesting against this inhuman support. Their dual standards can be assessed by the declaration of a recent G20 summit held in New Delhi which condemned Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian civilians to uphold respect for the UN charter and international laws. Paradoxically, they all support Israel’s war crimes in Gaza to restrict water, electricity, gas supplies and bomb hospitals, schools, and ambulances.

All this is allowed to happen at a time when the world needs unified efforts and pooled resources for collective climate action. The deepening distrust has widened the relation gap between the Global North and Global South which will further strain the negotiations at COP28 and beyond. Historically speaking, the division between the climate vanguard and the laggards has never been so wide. Western hypocrisy makes sure it protects its own while leaving others at the mercy of their oppressors. Throughout the climate justice movement, the Global North has proved to be a cog in the wheel of climate justice.

During the year, all five meetings of Technical Committee (TC) on the Loss & Damage Fund (L&D Fund) are a testimony to this apathy on the part of the developed nations where they have put all of their efforts into removing the liability, compensation and Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR) principles from the text of the proceedings. The progress on recommendations to COP28 by the fifth TC faced bottlenecks initiated by members of the US who left no stone unturned to stall the progress.

The year-long relentless dialogue on the operationalization of the L&D Fund saw developed nations using every tactic in the book to diminish the breadth and depth of the new Fund, aiming to sidestep their responsibilities. Likewise, their focus remained only on the World Bank to create an unscrupulous hedge on the L&D Fund. The recent synthesis report of the first Global Stocktake said that current global efforts regarding the climate crisis are falling far short of meeting the Paris Agreement’s goals. Remember, among the key mandates of this year’s UN climate negotiations (COP28) are the Global Stocktake, and the operationalizing of the Loss and Damage Fund.

There are many reasons why this text is unacceptably weak – including no obligations for developed countries to pay their fair share into the Loss and Damage Fund and the World Bank (WB) becoming the interim host of the Fund. This uncanny approach on the part of the developed world is to put more impetus to the struggle of the developing countries which are to continue fighting for climate justice for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis and for the immediate delivery of a fit-for-purpose Fund.

As the globe grapples with unparalleled climatic catastrophes, we cannot permit more delays or deceptive maneuvers. The communities bearing the direct brunt of these disasters, though no fault of their own, deserve genuine commitment and action not betrayal.

The enormity and scale of the security and climate crisis underscores the need for the international community to sit together to find sustainable solutions to end the violence which risks wider instability and global spillover. The unprecedented challenge demands to fail all efforts that are meant to derail ongoing global and regional efforts aimed at dialogue, cooperation, and co-existence.

They must not allow nihilistic destruction to overtake a region where people have already suffered prolonged conflicts, devastating wars and protracted climate catastrophes.

The 2023 climate moot is going to be phenomenal at this point, where we are about to witness global fossil fuel leaders, emitters, detractors, and destructors giving long lectures on humanity and cutting carbon emissions. This is to offer you a breathtaking green energy transition mantra by seasoned diplomats, technocrats and politicians from oil-producing nations. Keeping up with the usual dichotomy, the rich will zealously sermonize the poor about the dangers of industrializing economies – after securing hefty profits from multinationals and devouring massive amounts of new gas, coal, and oil. Likewise, the champions of human rights and peace will be worth listening to as they have heroic stories of the thousands of murdered children in Gaza.

The first job for the L&D Fund pundits now is to assess and quickly respond to the mammoth economic and non-economic loss and damage of Gaza. This is going to be a long-haul rebuilding journey as the quantum of devastation is unprecedented. Though the challenge of rebuilding infrastructure will require billions of dollars, the real challenge is to bring children, youth and women out of the psycho-social trauma. By the time the world gathers at COP28, the killing madness might have come to a close. Otherwise, COP28 will remain a futile exercise as has been its past trajectory.

The writer is a climate governance expert who works for global development organizations in the fields of research, advisory, policy analysis, and legislative reforms.He tweets/posts @razashafqat

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Climate adaptation

WORLD War III will get us before climate change. This is an increasingly common refrain, an understandable response to tragic and terrifying world events. As the Israel-Gaza war dominates headlines, it`s not surprising that developments in the lead-up to the annual UN climate change conference, COP28, have been sidelined.

But one disaster does not negate another, and we will equally have to contend with conflict and the consequences of climate change. For most Pakistanis, the latter is arguably more immediately existential.

The World Meteorological Society in May this year reported that the world would by 2027 breach the 1.5 degrees Celsius climate threshold agreed at the 2015 Paris climate summit, meaning that average global temperatures are likely to rise by more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. That`s three years away. How old will you be? Your children? Facing failure in the face of this key target, global climate leaders are seeking success elsewhere. Attention is turning to climate adaptation the need to adjust social, economic and ecological systems to adapt to the reality of climate change and its impacts. Climate efforts so far have coalesced around mitigation (reduction of GHG emissions), but there is growing recognition that as we seem incapable of giving up our addiction to fossil fuels, we must learn to adapt to the consequences of burning them.

According to a recent UN report, developing countries need $387 billion a year to adapt to climate change, an amount that has increased by $47bn since the last count. The UN report found that the adaptation financing need was 10 to 18 times more than current international public finance flows, which have dwindled in recent years. According to former climate minister Sherry Rehman, Pakistan alone needs $348bn by 2030 to build climate resilience. But as of November 2022, the country had only received $86.2 million since 2016 in bilateral grants with a climate adaptation focus. The numbers are stark enough that the president-designate of COP28 last week conceded that adaptation doesn`t get adequate finance.

Pakistan has already recognised the need to prioritise adaptation (floods that put over one-third of your land mass under water would do that). The climate change ministry in July published Pakistan`s first-ever National Adaptation Plan (NAP). The plan was 11 years too late as per the country`s own climate strategy, but timely in the run-up to COP28.

Covering the seven-year period to 2030, NAP aligns with UN`s best practice approaches and climate adaptation frame-works. Its recommendations also align with key findings of a recent McKinsey report that advocates for a systemic approach to climate adaptation. That approach highlights the importance of `a climate risk management mindset; technological and behavioural adaptation levers; economic and societal adjustments; and governance, institutional support, and commitment`.

McKinsey`s economic and societal adjustment bucket calls for `compensating mechanisms for vulnerable communities and institutions` and under its governance category it pushes for community awareness and engagement. Pakistan`s NAP echoes these principles with recommendations for evidence-based decisionmaking, the need to act locally, and a major emphasis on inclusion and equity (particularly for women, youth and marginalised communities), and with clear language promoting social justice and insisting that no one be left behind.

Here`s the elephant in the room. These principles are not the reality of our society.Inclusion and equity are an afterthought when it comes to other areas such as access to healthcare, justice, rule of law, education or public finances. Adaptation strategies will indeed work best when developed and imp-lemented locally, but how wiÍl thaïworkÏn a country that shuns and disempowers local governments? And women and marginalised communities are no doubt most at risk from climate impacts, but given how we violate their rights in normal circumstances, why would we behave differently when faced with heat, floods or fire? Critiques of climate adaptation approaches are still too high level. McKinsey celebrates that 84 per cent of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have adaptation plans, but points out these are not grounded in the physical risks they ameliorate, do not articulate financing needs, and are yet to be executed.

Even critiques of NAP focused on the lack of details around financing mechanisms and the scant specifics on implementation.

But there is little mention of the disconnect between adaptation planning and societal attitudes more broadly. Without meaningfully changing ourselves and our society, we will not successfully adapt to a climate change-affected world.

The writer is a political and integrity risk analyst.

X: @humayusuf

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