Apart from mobile phones and SIM cards, several documents were also seized during the NIA crackdown, as part of the ongoing investigations in the case…reports Asian Lite News
National Investigation Agency (NIA) carried out raids across multiple states, resulting in the confiscation of crucial documents and electronic devices in connection with the Pakistan-backed Ghazwa-e-Hind module case. An official reported that the searches exposed connections between the suspects, whose locations were targeted, and handlers based in Pakistan.
The official said that these suspects were in contact with the handlers, and were involved in propagating the radical, anti-India idea of Ghazwa-e-Hind.
The official said that searches were conducted at the premises of suspects in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas, Gujarat’s Gir Somnath, Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh and Kerala’s Kozhikode.
Apart from mobile phones and SIM cards, several documents were also seized during the NIA crackdown, as part of the ongoing investigations in the case.
The case was initially registered as FIR on July 14 last year by Phulwarisharif police in Patna district of Bihar, following the arrest of one Marghoob Ahmad Danish a.k.a. Tahir. Marghoob was the admin of WhatsApp Group ‘Ghazwa-e-Hind’, created by a Pakistani national identified as Zain. The accused, Marghoob, had added many persons from India as well as other countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Yemen, to the group, which was also active on other social media platforms such as Telegram and BiP Messenger.
Aimed at radicalizing impressionable youth in the name of the establishment of Ghazwa-e-Hind over the territory of India, the group was being operated by Pakistan-based suspects, according to NIA investigations, the official said. The anti-terror agency had filed a charge sheet against accused Marghoob Ahmad Danish on January 6 this year.
Kermani said that she raised the slogan “Ceasefire Now” when the guests were making speeches and sending felicitations to Britain…reports Asian Lite News
The Pakistani classical dancer and founder of the cultural action group Tehrik-i-Niswan, Sheema Khermani was “ejected” from a programme held at the British Deputy High Commission after she raised pro-Palestine slogans in the event in Karachi, Dawn News reported on Saturday.
The Pakistan-based news daily, quoting Khermani, reported that the event was held to celebrate the birthday of King Charles III and the guest list included other artists, politicians, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and other officials.
Kermani said that she raised the slogan “Ceasefire Now” when the guests were making speeches and sending felicitations to Britain.
This prompted security personnel to come closer to her and try to force her out of their premises. “That’s when I asked them to not touch me as I would see myself out,” Kermani said after the regrettable incident.
“They were all congratulating the British Government and the royal family without any mention of the atrocities taking place in Gaza. I just had to do what I did. I couldn’t stay silent. Sadly, when the other guests saw me being thrown out and my leaving, none of them, not even one of them, decided to also take a stand and join me,” she added.
When contacted, a spokesperson for the British Deputy High Commission said that Kermani was shouting during “an important speech about climate change in Pakistan by the British Deputy High Commissioner”.
Dawn News reported that the spokesperson added that it was then that the “security personnel came forth to stop her from shouting. But then she left on her own. So it won’t be correct to say that we threw her out”.
On October 7, backed by a barrage of rockets, Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns, killing dozens and abducting others in an unprecedented surprise attack. A stunned Israel launched airstrikes in Gaza, with its prime minister saying the country is now at war with Hamas and vowing to inflict an “unprecedented price.” (ANI)
A similar anti-terror operation was carried out by the Spain’s national police last month where the police caught four suspected jihadists, reported Euro Weekly News…reports Asian Lite News
Police in Spain arrested suspected 14 Pakistan-origin individuals and busted a suspected jihadist network based in the country, Euro Weekly News reported.
The arrests were made as part of an operation initiated by Spain’s General Information Commissioner’s Office after the anti-terrorist alert level was raised in the country following Hamas’ attack on Israel a month ago. Spanish Security Forces redoubled surveillance on suspects in order to avoid possible attacks, Euro Weekly News reported.
All of the detainees were of Pakistani origin and are said to have lived in Catalonia, Valencia, Guipuzcoa, Vitoria, Logrono and Lleida, according to Euro Weekly News, the largest English newspaper in Spain.
Police sources confirmed the arrests to La Razon, a local daily.
Those arrested will be reportedly produced in court on Wednesday (local time)
Euro Weekly News reported that it is believed that these individuals formed a network in which jihadist messages and a high degree of radicalisation were transmitted online.
David Atherton, a journalist at The European Conservative posted on social media app X stating that these 14 Pakistani jihadists are linked to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) an Islamic extremist political party in Pakistan.
“In Spain 14 Pakistani jihadists have been arrested for terrorist activities. They lived in Catalonia, Valencia, Guipuzcoa, Vitoria, Logrono & Lleida. They are linked to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan an Islamic extremist political party in Pakistan,” he said.
A similar anti-terror operation was carried out by the Spain’s national police last month where the police caught four suspected jihadists, reported Euro Weekly News.
Those four suspects were arrested in the Granada municipality of Huetor-Tajar, Cubelles in Barcelona, and Madrid, for ‘proselytism and jihadist recruitment’, the Spanish weekly said.
Reportedly, among those arrested was a man named “Caliph” who authorities said was the “creator and administrator of several groups in which he tried to indoctrinate young people in the jihadist creed.”
A married couple who had apparently been brought together after joining one of these online social media groups was also among those held, Euro Weekly News reported. Adding to this, the fourth suspected jihadist was said to have been an ‘indoctrinated’ individual. (ANI)
Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) officials are actively collecting data on individuals returning to their home country…reports Asian Lite News
Over 1,67,000 Afghan nationals who were residing in Pakistan without legal status have voluntarily returned to Afghanistan, ARY News reported on Sunday.
In the last 24 hours, a total of 7,135 Afghan citizens returned to Afghanistan from the Torkham border crossing, according to Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees’ (CAR) statement.
Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) officials are actively collecting data on individuals returning to their home country.
“Since October 1st, 1,67,774 Afghan citizens who were illegally staying in Pakistan have returned home till now,” the Commissionerate has said.
On October 3, the apex committee of the National Action Plan (NAP), led by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, granted all foreign nationals living illegally in Pakistan until October 31 the right to depart voluntarily or face deportation.
Following the expiration of this deadline, the caretaker government initiated actions to address the issue of illegal immigrants, with a significant number of them being Afghan nationals staying in Pakistan without proper documentation. The repatriation process for these illegal Afghan immigrants is actively underway through the Chaman and Torkham borders.
Caretaker Minister for Interior Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti has directed the relevant authorities to develop a comprehensive strategy for the repatriation of foreigners residing in Pakistan without legal status.
The caretaker interior minister emphasised the government’s commitment to addressing illegal immigration and ensuring the security of foreigners. He underscored that maintaining law and order remains a top priority and emphasised a zero-tolerance approach to any disruptive activities by individuals or groups.
The minister further instructed the authorities to formulate a comprehensive plan to facilitate the return of foreigners who are illegally residing in Pakistan, ARY News reported. (ANI)
Relations between him and the army soured during his later years in office. Not just because of he was embroiled in a controversy over what was known as Panama Papers and faced corruption charges but because the real rulers of Pakistan thought he was abandoning the traditional anti-India hardline as a recipe for tackling some of the chronic economic problems of the country … writes Rama Rao Malladi
Three-time prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif has just returned home amidst rumours that he might achieve a rare first: become the first Pakistani to win a fourth term in the ballot on February 8, 2024. For the past four years, he was in ‘self-exile’ in London, which was facilitated by the all-powerful military establishment at the behest of his younger brother, the resourceful Shehbaz Sharif.
The Sharif brothers, particularly the Mian saheb, as Nawaz is known, know that anybody who takes control of the country now will have a very tough time dealing with a failed economy, Taliban menace, and restive population. With all the money that the likes of China and Saudi Arabia are pumping in, it will be years before Pakistan’s scrip sees the sunlight.
Like his predecessors of all hues – democrats and dictators, Miansaheb knows that the relentless pursuit of anti-India policy has failed to produce the results Pakistan wanted.
The terrorists, particularly, the so-called Good Taliban, nurtured by the GHQ and its eyes and ears, ISI, have turned towards their patrons. This is amply evident from the Nov 4 attack on the Mianwali Training Air Base of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the swoop on the same day in Balochistan (on Gwadar port city fancied by the Chinese as their very own) and in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan (in Dera Ismail Khan, to be precise).
The caretaker regime, which is executing the Army plan for political re-engineering and economic rejuvenation, has managed to anger its friendly neighbour, the one that was supposed to provide it with the comfort of ‘strategic depth’ beyond the Durand Line the British era border that divides Pakistan and Afghanistan.
No Pakistani utters the phrase ‘strategic depth’ any longer; Well, every Pakistani from the mighty Generals to the man in the street- is now embarrassed to realize how foolishly Islamabad – Rawalpindi combine has been acting as the leading votary for global recognition of the Taliban regime.
Millions of Afghan refugees who had escaped from the brutalities of the Taliban are being forced back into Afghanistan—not only against their own wishes but even of Kabul, which is extremely angry over Pakistani unilateralism. Against this backdrop, Pakistan cannot hope to get respite from the cross-border attacks. The much-publicized refugee eviction carries not the imprint of the Foreign Office but of the Army headquarters, which, as a commentator says, thinks through its berets and khaki shoes.
As pointed out, the military establishment cannot escape blame for the mess. Its penchant to run from behind as Big Brother is not a new development. But this time around, under Chief, General Syed Asim Munir, the Army is mostly on the direct line of action to the dismay of old-timers.
The present caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaar ul Haq Kakar is a Pushtun from Balochistan, and is the choice of the army.
Army chiefs and Corps Commanders are dictating the course of the economy as members of a newly formed quasi-military forum which is nominally headed by the Prime Minister.
Usually, the ‘neutral’ temporary government functions for three months by which time general elections are to be held.
Yet, under the pretext of completing delimitation of constituencies, the polls were pushed initially indefinitely. Big noise by political parties and the vigilantism of the Supreme Court made the poll body opt for a Feb 8 ballot.
All this and much more, has made Nawaz Sharif’s face a hurdle race, literally. He has to first clear the disqualification bar and then get clearance in the pending graft cases. It is only then, that Nawaz, the campaigner can enter the poll fray.
Nawaz’s beta noire, Imran Khan also faces similar handicaps on his way to realising the dream of having sway over whatever he surveys from his sprawling Bani Gala estate in Islamabad. While whether Imran Khan would be allowed to enter the fray is still unclear, his incarceration does not seem to be making much difference in his popularity sweepstakes. And the poll results will not be adversely affected even if Imran is not allowed to contest, as is very likely.
If Nawaz Sharif indeed succeeds in taking over the reins once again, he will have completed a unique roller coaster ride in the topsy-turvy politics of the land that was carved out of British India as home to the Muslims of the subcontinent seven decades ago. He became prime minister for the first time in 1990. It was a feat blessed by the army – the chief minister of Punjab (Pakistan) was promoted to the prime minister of the country.
His second innings began in 1993 and lasted for about three years. He returned in 1997 and this time he was ousted by the military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf in 1999. In fact, a remarkable thing about his three tenures as prime minister was that on each occasion, he failed to complete the five-year term.
Relations between him and the army soured during his later years in office. Not just because he was embroiled in a controversy over what was known as the Panama Papers and faced corruption charges but because the real rulers of Pakistan thought he was abandoning the traditional anti-India hardline as a recipe for tackling some of the chronic economic problems of the country.
The courts awarded him a jail sentence and he was disqualified from holding any public office. That was in 2011. It appeared Sharif, the politician had run his course.
His one-time benefactor, the army, appeared reluctant to bail him out but the GHQ did help, maybe without knowing how it would play out when it facilitated imprisoned Sharif’s shift to London for medical treatment.
He was expected to return to the jail after the treatment was completed but somehow, the treatment in London never seemed to end and Sharif stayed on. Rest is history as the saying goes.
The turn of events in the past month shows luck has not deserted Nawaz, at least as yet. The mighty Khakis have developed an aversion towards their one-time blue-eyed boy, Imran Khan. The former Pakistani cricket idol had assumed that by virtue of his vast popularity, he did not have to take orders from GHQ. He built himself as pro-Islamist and anti-West and pandered to the fundamentalists.
Imran’s interference in some top army transfers and postings infuriated the Generals. An issue that became a cause celebre was his opposition to the general appointed as the ISI director by the then chief of army staff. As well as his open tirade against General Qamar Bajwa, who had installed him as PM after sacking Nawaz.
The general Imran Khan had opposed is now the chief of the army staff. He is in a position to play with the political career of Imran Khan and that for sure would not be to the latter’s liking. Undoubtedly, the Pakistan Army has also lost the “geostrategic heft” it enjoyed with the West in “controlling and directing” the Taliban. The Cipher Gate, perpetuated by the Imran regime made relations with the US messier.
As a commentator says, “The open praise for the Taliban for its role in ‘countering international terror groups’ in Afghanistan by US President Joe Biden can be said to have eroded the Pak army’s exalted position in counter-terrorism interests of the West in the region”.
Nonetheless, China has not given up its stake in the wellbeing of the Pak Army since Beijing is extending its Belt and Road Initiative into Afghanistan from the land of the pure. China was not happy with Bajwa sacking Nawaz in 2017 and favouring Imran in the 2018 elections. Put simply, Nawaz has every reason to sport a smile. For how long is a question that will be debated over cups of Chinese tea? Any doubt?
(The writer is a Delhi-based journalist and commentator)
Pakistan has a population of 24 crores 41 lakh, out of which 40 lakhs are Afghans…reports Asian Lite News
In an unprecedented move, the Caretaker Government in Pakistan, led by former lawmaker Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, had announced 1.7 million Afghan refugees to leave by November 1. The caretaker Prime Minister as well as his two cabinet ministers, Sarfaraz Bugti and Murtaza Solangi had stressed that the ‘crackdown’ would apply to all undocumented foreigners in Pakistan.
An Apex Committee of the National Action Plan (NAP) meeting was held on October 3, announcing ‘October 31’ as the deadline to leave voluntarily or face deportation. In its defence, the Interior Minister Bugti said “Most of the [illegally-residing] people are from Afghanistan; the impression that only people from Afghanistan are being evicted is wrong.” The Interior Ministry also stated that 140,322 people had already left voluntarily. Pakistan’s government blames Afghan nationals for the increase in violence in the country, including two suicide bombings at mosques in September.
Pakistan has a population of 24 crores 41 lakh, out of which 40 lakhs are Afghans. Around 24 lakhs of Afghans have some form of government approved documentation, while 17 lakhs have no paperwork (according to the government). Situated at the border with Afghanistan, Pakistan has witnessed the cross-border travel of Afghans for decades, starting from 1979 Soviet Invasion to the recent return of Taliban in 2021.
What led to the mass deportations?
“Historically, the Pakistan State officially has, that there is a large number of Afghan refugees inside Pakistan. Several millions of those are registered, either have Proof of Registration (POR) or Afghan Citizenship Card (ACC) card. As long as they have those cards, they are considered registered. If they do not have those cards, they are considered unregistered. The registered ones had entered Pakistan, through a visa or passport, but there is no exit record. So, Pakistan’s stand is that it should not bear the cost of these additional millions of refugees that it does not receive any international support for. That is the official stand. It is a policy stand, but the problem here is the execution of the policy. I would argue that the key difference here is that the trigger this time is little bit different from usually stated security concerns or the pressure built on economic foundations of the country because providing resources for social protection, health, education for 1.7 million additional citizens, which amounts of 1.2% of Pakistan’s total population, is quite a monumental task for the government, that is already an economic downturn,” said Zeeshan Salahuddin, Director Strategy and Growth, Tabadlab.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has slammed Pakistani authorities for using threats, abuse and detention to coerce Afghan asylum seekers without legal status to return to Afghanistan. “Many Afghans at risk of being deported are awaiting resettlement to the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada,” HRW stated. The decision has been widely criticised while the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) gave repeated calls for the government to re-address the mass forceful deportation. The World Food Program on X social network has worried about the situation of families in the upcoming winter in Afghanistan. This institution said that it needs 400 million dollars to provide necessary assistance to needy families in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Since 2002, the United States has provided more than $273 million (nearly Rs 62 billion) in humanitarian assistance for Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Pakistani host communities. In Fiscal Year 2022 alone, the U.S. provided nearly $60 million (more than Rs 13 billion) in assistance to the refugees and their host communities.
The context of being an Afghan refugee in Pakistan
“The influx of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan can be divided into three phases: Firstly, soviet invasion of Afghanistan, secondly post 9/11 and thirdly, post-Taliban government. There is an utmost need to unfold the term “Afghan Refugees.” Broadly, there are three understandings. First are those Afghan Refugees who have refugee cards and have registration. From Pakistan’s perspective, these are legal Afghan Refugees. Second, are those who became citizens of Pakistan and have documents. It is not easy to contest their status as Pakistani citizens. Third are those who are considered illegal Afghan Refugees (foreigners) because they do not have any registration or refugee card,” said Gohar Ali Iftikhar, PhD Candidate at Bahauddin Zakariya University and member Board of Experts at Pakistan Studies and Member of Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future (PRCCSF).
“In the year 2023, a narrative was shaped that Afghan Refugees are involved in terrorist activities, illegal trade, damaging infrastructure, involvement in criminal activities, and badly affecting social fabric.” he further added.
“Since 1970s, Afghan refugees have been fleeing to Pakistan because of proxy wars of which Pakistan was a part unfortunately. They have been here for decades earning their bread. They are solely depending on their own income. The camps where Afghan refugees reside have no water, no electricity, no gas, and no hygiene. Though, UNHCR, donor countries and UN bodies provided huge funds for the rehabilitation of Afghan refugees but the fact is not a single school was set up to educate Afghan kids over the years. Also, nobody can point out a single basic healthcare unit for the treatment of the Afghan refugees,” said Arshad Yousafzai, a Karachi-based journalist.
“Refugees are treated as criminals, thousands of children, women and elderly are put behind the bars. Among them, there were patients, pregnant women and small kids. But they are labelled as illegal. This must be understood that refugees can’t be illegal as seeking refuge somewhere is a basic right,” he added.
What is Afghanistan’s Reaction?
Amir Khan Muttaqi, Afghanistan’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs told the representative of the United Nations Secretary that the Pakistani government is raiding the homes of Afghan refugees and taking their cash assets by force. Moulavi Muhammad Yaqub Mujahid, the Deputy defense minister of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, called on the Pakistani government not to use force against Afghan refugees and “not to confiscate” their civilians.
Recently, news has been published that some Pakistani security forces are extorting money from Afghan refugees. The Afghan Ministry of Refugees intends to register returnees and house them in temporary camps, while the Taliban administration will try and find returnees jobs.
The Legal dimensions of deportations
It should be noted that, Pakistan is not a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees/1967 Protocol and has also not enacted any national legislation for the protection of refugees, nor established procedures to determine the refugee status of persons who are seeking international protection within its territory. Such persons are therefore treated in accordance with the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
“The Citizen Act of Pakistan, 1951, states that a person who is born in Pakistan is a citizen of Pakistan. The children of many Afghan Refugees are born, grown up and educated in Pakistan. They have an emotional attachment to their areas. It will lead to an identity crisis. Here, it is worth mentioning that the Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar himself, is a Pakhtoon, but the issue is still not handled appropriately,” stated Gohar Ali Iftikhar.
“78% of those who hold the registration card in Pakistan are actually Afghan nationals who are born inside Pakistan. By virtue of that, they should be Pakistani citizens. But this is a luxury that is not afforded to children born to Afghan refugees residing in the country for a while. One of the missteps: many individuals, maybe second or third generation Afghans are being deported to country where they do not have roots and frankly, they do not know what they are going back to,” said Zeeshan Salahuddin.
“Out of the 17 lakh unregistered refugees, 4.5 – 5 lakhs came to Pakistan after Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. They had been assisted by SHARP and SHEHER NGO – two local NGOs that work with UNCHR. The rest 12 lakhs, want to register, but the registration has been banned since August 2021. In the 2017 Cabinet meeting, the then PM Nawaz Sharif had asked for implementing a registration policy and follow the refugee law to deal with the issue. In the 2023 Cabinet meeting, no decision was taken. Therefore, it is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The Caretaker government cannot make such policy decisions,” said lawyer Umer Gilani.
Umer Gilani has also approached the Honourable Supreme Court through a petition under article 184(3) Constitution, 1973, challenging the Caretaker Government’s unconstitutional, illegal and inhumane policy of refoulement of at-risk asylum seekers and refugees residing in Pakistan since the past several decades.
“In Pakistan, under two contexts, birth right citizenship cannot be offered. Either when the child is of a diplomat or that of an enemy soldier. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account the legal rights of those children born to Afghan refugees. The government needs to filter out asylum seekers and potential citizens amidst this mass deportation,” he further stated.
“Asylum seeking is a fundamental human right. Those who have spent more than 40 years in Pakistan should never be used in this political game. Their children have the right to get Pakistan’s citizenship. Kicking them out means that we are sowing seeds of hatred against ourselves,” said Arshad Yousafzai.
A group of Afghan artists residing in Pakistan lodged an appeal in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) against their forced repatriation. Musicians are afraid of their uncertain future in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban. Meanwhile, The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday wondered how the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees could register Afghan refugees, who entered the country in the last two and three years, without the consent of Pakistan’s government, and sought the response of authorities about the matter.
What is Pakistani civil society’s reaction?
“A day after Pakistan initiated the forced deportation of vulnerable Afghan refugees, the country has experienced 3 attacks. Firstly, a convoy attack in Gwadar, Baluchistan has killed 13 army soldiers. Secondly, a blast in Dera Ismail Khan city has left civilians injured. Thirdly, there are now reports of any attack on Pakistan Air Force base in Mianwali Punjab. You have deported undocumented and unwanted Afghans. Now, who is responsible for these attacks? Refugees have been wrongly scapegoated?’’ questioned Khalid Amiri, an Afghan refugee.
56 civil societies members–lawyers, professors, journalists, doctors, researchers and activists have issued a statement to criticise the deportation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and to call upon the caretaker government to halt the arrest of refugees. The civil society members include Hina Jilani, Arif Hasan, Sheema Kermani, Dr Riaz Ahmad, Nida Kirmani, Mahnaz Rahman, Pastor Ghazala Shafique and Barrister Kazim Hassan. Civil society members visited a detention centre in Karachi. To their utmost horror, not only Pashtun and Afghan adults but also kids were being picked up by the police and thrown in there without their parents knowing. The rights activists, civil society people and reporters gathered outside Amin House, Scouts Hostel in Haji Camp on November 3, where Afghan people are kept before their forced deportation.
“There are detention centres in Pakistan right now where Afghan people are being detained. As there is no FIR against them, they do not have access to legal counsel. As a result, lawyers, media, civil society, no one can enter these, and they are heavily policed. No one knows what is happening inside – and this isn’t new. We’ve done it before to Bihari and Bengal people – detain them in detention centres without representation or rights. There is no law for detention centres, and Pakistan is not a signatory to refugee covenants so the Pakistani State has created a comfortable legal vacuum for itself within which it is detaining countless Afghan families without crimes, without police reports, and with zero legal representation. Your state’s poverty is not Afghans’ doing – it is the political elites,’ tweeted Mehrub Awan, Director of Policy and Research at Gender Interactive Alliance.
“It also a special kind of cruelty to expel 850,000 women and girls to a country where you know their rights to study, work, move, access healthcare and aid, speak, organize, play sport and even just visit a park will be systematically violated,” tweeted Heather Barr, Associate director, women’s rights division, Human Rights Watch.
“To depart 700,000 Afghans who fled the Taliban’s tyranny is clearly inhumane. It was wrong for the Pakistan government to have helped the Taliban take over Afghanistan, and doubly wrong to boot out the victims of that regime. As for other Afghan refugees who have sheltered in Pakistan for economic reasons, to enforce their return makes some sense. But it should be a case by case approach aimed at alleviating human suffering rather than the draconian step taken by the government,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy, Pakistani Nuclear physicist and author of ‘Pakistan: Origins, Identity and Future’.
He further added that team of the Islamabad Police, led by Station House Officer (SHO) of Ramna police station, Alamgir Khan on October 24, allegedly raided ‘The Black Hole’, a small community hall in Islamabad’s G-11 sector, minutes before start of a panel discussion on the issue of the repatriation of the Afghan refugees. Eminent politician Afrasiab Khattak and the author and researcher Sajjad Azhar were to take part in the discussion.
“This is very much going to undo decades of hospitality for hosting Afghan refugees inside the borders of Pakistan. It is going to lead additional vitriol in between Kabul and Islamabad. It has severe implication on how Pakistan treats Afghan refugees, both from hospitality and human rights point of view. So, the repercussions would be significant for both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Afghanistan, under Taliban government, are stretched, their resources are less, they are struggling to make ends meet. Having to cater to another 1.7 million refugees, close to 5% of their population would be significant setback for Afghanistan. It is a pressure point as Pakistan has repeatedly asked Afghanistan to reign in terror groups, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan that has been raging wars on state of Pakistan for 15-16 years. The response from Kabul in terms of policy or intervention on the ground has been very limited.” said Zeeshan Salahuddin.
“After this forced deportation, the level of hate against Pakistan among Afghans (if they are Taliban, their supporters, or if they belong to progressive quarters) is touching new heights. This hatred will have very bad implications in the near future as it is evident from the statements of Taliban leaders. And some of them believe and even they publicly say that Pakistan was an ally of the US and NATO against them. They also blame Pakistan for arresting the then Taliban diplomats and handed them over to US after 9/11,” said Arshad Yousafzai.
“There are some valid questions which need to be addressed. The first one is the timing of this action. Afghan Refugees have been living in Pakistan for the last three decades now; suddenly, what happened? Second, currently, the political setup in Pakistan is a Caretaker Government, and its prime duty is to conduct elections and transfer the power to the elected government. Who gave the mandate to such a policy decision which would have long-term implications on National and Regional Politics? Last, if the issue of Afghan Refugees is that much herculean challenge for Pakistan, then why did the previous elected governments procrastinate this issue?” questioned Gohar Ali Iftikhar.
“The other side of the picture is that the issue of Afghan Refugees is a complex phenomenon. Pashtoon, Pakhtoon or Pathans comprise a significant percentage of Pakistan’s population. They are politico-socio-economically influenced ethno-linguistic group. Afghans and Pakhtoons shared a common culture and people-to-people ties. So, this hasty decision will affect the Pakhtoon population of Pakistan. Further, there is a possibility of antagonism in the foreign relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan” he further elaborated.
“This is not the first time that Pakistan has considered sending back undocumented Afghans from the country but the scale of the current effort is significant. In part, this decision is meant to express displeasure with the Taliban regime to curb cross-border militancy in Pakistan. However, Pakistan has also been compelled to take this drastic step due to its inability to put in place effective and more discerning border security and management protocols, as well as due to the lingering burden of hosting one of the largest refugee inflows in the world for decades, without sufficient international support,” explained Syed Mohammad Ali, who teaches human security at the Advanced Academic Programs at Johns Hopkins University.
Irrespective of what the ramifications of this deportation might be, it cannot be ignored that the colossal human rights abuse in this context by Pakistan’s Caretaker Government would have international and domestic implications, especially at the sensitive Durand Line, a 2,670-kilometre long border between Afghanistan–Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Interior Ministry had given foreign nationals living without legal status 28 days to leave voluntarily, with November 1 as the deadline…reports Asian Lite News
In a recent move aimed at addressing security concerns stemming from rising terrorist attacks, Pakistan initiated a crackdown on undocumented immigrants, primarily Afghan refugees, resulting in a mass exodus. This operation involved security sweeps in Karachi, Rawalpindi, and bordering provinces like Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to UN agencies, Pakistan is home to over 2 million undocumented Afghans, with at least 600,000 arriving after the Taliban’s 2021 takeover. This new deportation policy has strained relations with the Taliban-led Afghanistan and raised international concerns, according to the European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS)
Pakistan’s Interior Ministry had given foreign nationals living without legal status 28 days to leave voluntarily, with November 1 as the deadline. This announcement prompted a surge of Afghan refugees heading towards the border crossings to avoid deportation, particularly noticeable in Karachi’s Sohrab Goth area. Some have lived in Pakistan for decades, and some have never been to Afghanistan.
The Pakistan government claimed that around 200,000 Afghan nationals had already left the country in the two months leading up to November 1. The Taliban’s refugee ministry reported daily returnee figures three times higher than usual. While Pakistan’s government stated that only those without any documentation would be deported initially, incidents have occurred where individuals holding Afghan Citizen Cards were targeted.
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, criticized Islamabad’s deportation policy, especially concerning the vulnerability of women and girls returning to Afghanistan. The UNHCR expressed concerns about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, worsened by recent earthquakes and the approaching winter.
Despite criticism, Pakistan’s government proceeded with its plans to open detention centres around the country. They emphasized their right to follow their laws and their history of hosting Afghan refugees for over four decades.
The deportation of Afghan nationals has also raised concerns for those awaiting relocation to the US and the UK under special refugee programs. These individuals had to relocate to Pakistan for their applications to be processed, and their situations are now precarious.
The UN, human rights organizations and the international community have expressed concerns about the deportation policy’s potential to create a human rights crisis. Aid organizations reported that refugees arriving in Afghanistan were in poor condition, and their survival and reintegration into Afghan society were uncertain.
Pakistan justified the crackdown by citing an upsurge in terrorist attacks and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s activities. However, many, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, believe that the refugees should not suffer for Pakistan’s security concerns and that they should have access to legal counsel. There are calls for Pakistan to consider signing the 1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees.
Fawad Chaudhry was arrested outside the Supreme Court (SC) in Islamabad, Geo News reported. He was arrested during the crackdown on the PTI leaders and workers…reports Asian Lite News
Pakistan’s former Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has been arrested from his home in Islamabad and taken to an “unknown place” on Saturday, Pakistan-based Geo News reported. Fawad Chaudhry’s wife Hiba Fawad Chaudhary has confirmed his arrest.
Hiba Fawad Chaudhary said that Fawad Chaudhry was arrested by police and men wearing plain clothes. Speaking to Geo News, Hiba Fawad Chaudhry said, “We have not been told why Fawad is being arrested.”
She has also confirmed his arrest on X. In a post on X, Hiba Fawad Chaudhry said, “Fawad Arrested and taken to unknown place.”
Earlier in May, Fawad Chaudhry was arrested outside the Supreme Court (SC) in Islamabad, Geo News reported. He was arrested during the crackdown on the PTI leaders and workers.
Chaudhry was present inside the Pakistan Supreme Court since 11 am (local time) in a bid to evade arrest, as per the news report. He, however, was arrested after he came out of the apex court premises.
The Islamabad police had arrested Chaudhry under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Ordinance (MPO) and shifted him to the Secretariat Police Station.
The Islamabad Court had later issued a production order for Fawad Chaudhry. Following this, he was presented before the high court on May 16 and granted relief, Dawn reported. However, an attempt was made to rearrest him but Fawad Chaudhry approached court and requested blanket relief from the single-member bench regarding cases lodged against him.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and former prime minister Imran Khan moved to the Supreme Court seeking post-arrest bail in the cypher case, as reported by The News International on Friday.
Imran Khan filed the plea through his counsel Salman Safdar. In his 18-page bail plea, the PTI chief challenged the Islamabad High Court’s verdict against halting the proceedings of the cypher case against him, dismissing his petitions and allowing interrogation, The News International reported.
Among the questions raised, Khan is seeking the Supreme Court to consider whether the courts that rejected his bail plea took into account that the cypher case was “politically motivated.” Additionally, he is questioning the role of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) jurisdiction in the case and its “malafide intentions and ulterior motives.”
Khan has inquired, “Whether the Ministry of Interior correctly assumed the role of Complainant, excluding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which actually handles the ‘Cypher Telegram,’ and whether the Minister of Interior, under whose direct supervision the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) operates, was not a political opponent of the Petitioner?”
The petition aims to have the top court determine whether the Islamabad High Court “failed to properly understand and appreciate that the petitioner, as Prime Minister of Pakistan, did not violate the Oath and also enjoyed ‘Immunity’ as provided under Article 248.”
In the case’s “interest of justice and fair play,” the PTI chief is seeking post-arrest bail from the Supreme Court, The News International reported. (ANI)
The Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), an affiliate of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Dawn report…reports Asian Lite News
As many as nine terrorists were killed in a clearance operation after Pakistan’s army foiled a terrorist attack on the Mianwali Training Air Base of the Pakistan Air Force in the early hours of Saturday, Pakistan-based Dawn reported citing the military’s media wing.
In an afternoon update, the military said that the “combing and clearance operation at PAF Training Airbase Mianwali has been concluded and all nine terrorists have been sent to hell.” It further said that the operation was launched to “eliminate any potential threat in the surrounding area following the cowardly and failed terrorist attack on the base this morning.”
According to ISPR, no damage has been caused to any of the Pakistan Air Force’s functional operational assets. It said that some damage was done to three already phased-out non-operational aircraft during the terrorist attack.
The ISPR said in the statement that the conclusion of the operation is a reminder for all enemies of peace that Pakistan’s armed forces remain vigilant, according to Dawn report.
In an earlier statement released in the morning, the ISPR said the attack on the air base had been foiled, with three terrorists “neutralised” and three others “cornered/isolated.”
It had said that “some damage to three already grounded aircraft and a fuel bowser also occurred” during the attack. ISPR said that it had initiated a “comprehensive joint clearance and combing operation” to clear the area of terrorists.
The Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), an affiliate of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Dawn report.
Pakistan caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq lauded the Pakistan Air Force for thwarting a cowardly terrorist attack in Mianwali and said, “Any attempt to undermine our security will meet with unwavering resistance. The nation stands with you and we salute your courage and resolve.”
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has condemned the terrorist attack on the Pakistan Air Force training base in Mianwali, Pakistan-based Dawn reported. He noted that these attacks showcase the desperation of enemies.
In a post on X, Shehbaz Sharif stated, “Strongly condemn the cowardly terrorist attack on the Pakistan Air Force base in Mianwali. Salute our security forces for their swift action, preventing casualties and foiling evil plans of our enemies. These repeated attacks reveal our enemies’ desperation, but we stand resilient. Our forces are vigilant, united to defeat terrorism. We’re determined to preserve peace and stability. Prayers for the affected families and our brave security personnel.”
Pakistan’s Interim Interior Minister, Sarfraz Bugti, stressed that the names of the terrorists involved in today’s and yesterday’s attacks “must have been different but the enemy behind the scenes is the same,” Dawn reported.
In a post on X, Bugti stated, “The names of the terrorists who attacked in DI Khan, Pasni and Mianwali must be different, but the enemy behind the scenes is the same. The recent wave of terrorism is a conspiracy to make Pakistan suffer from uncertainty and instability again.”
He further said, “All civil and military institutions will defend the country to the last drop of blood and thwart the plans of the enemies!”
The terrorist attack on Mianwali Training Air Base of the Pakistan Air Force comes after a series of attacks that claimed the lives of 17 Pakistani soldiers in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dawn reported.
These include a terrorist attack in Gwadar, a remote-controlled bomb explosion in Dera Ismail Khan and a security operation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Lakki Marwat, according to Dawn report. Another remote controlled blast occurred in Dera Ismail Khan which claimed lives of five people and injured at least 24 others, including police officials.
At least 14 Pakistani soldiers were killed after terrorists attacked two vehicles carrying security forces in Pakistan’s Gwadar, Pakistan-based Geo News reported citing military’s media wing. On Friday, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that terrorists attacked the security convoy while it was moving from Pasni to Ormara in Gwadar district. (ANI)
The move comes as Pakistan seeks to “get at the source of the problem” by evicting the Afghans living on its soil, many of them for decades. However, it is misplaced and partial at best, even a ruse. The ‘jihad’ that brought the Afghan refugees into Pakistan in the 1980s was Pakistan’s project at the American instance and was funded by Saudi Arabia. Afghans who benefited and suffered, both, were the collaterals of the larger project that benefitted Pakistan and also ‘Islamised’ its society …writes Dr Sakariya Kareem
Does Pakistan require three million youths with only religious education that allows no modern-day learning and no prospects for employment? Trained in 35,000 madrassas, they are ready fodder for militancy and violence that fed the ‘jihad’ and Al Qaeda in the last century and now feeds the Islamic State (IS).
Dawn newspaper asked this question as rising violence by Islamist militants, highlighted by the September 29 attack on a Shia religious congregation in Balochistan’s Mastung district that killed 55 has forced Pakistan’s caretaker government, already seized with political instability and economic distress, to review the role of the religious seminaries.
On Oct. 27, it announced the Central Development Working Party with a PKR 11.7 billion project for the registration of seminaries and to regulate them by creating a directorate in Islamabad. This yet-again effort at reform comes ostensibly at the army’s behest, considering its Chief, General Asim Munir’s repeated pronouncements against rising extremism that, even as it feeds from the tribal belt along with the neighbouring Afghanistan, has spread across the country. Besides threatening a fragile social fabric, it has also hit the personnel and the prospects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), perhaps Pakistan’s only hope of staying afloat.
The move comes as Pakistan seeks to “get at the source of the problem” by evicting the Afghans living on its soil, many of them for decades. However, it is misplaced and partial at best, even a ruse. The ‘jihad’ that brought the Afghan refugees into Pakistan in the 1980s was Pakistan’s project at the American instance and was funded by Saudi Arabia. Afghans who benefited and suffered, both, were the collaterals of the larger project that benefitted Pakistan and also ‘Islamised’ its society.
The review of the seminaries’ role and their reform is accompanied by the same contradictions and complexities which have dogged them in the past and have made them non-starters. No more than 250 at Pakistan’s birth, they fed into the need to make the country Islamist and met the needs of millions of poor who could not afford education.
The seminaries multiplied in the 1980s because of the then army-led Pakistan under Ziaul Haq. Successive governments have no clue on how to bring them into the national mainstream thousands of unemployable youth trained only in religious affairs, many of them used for militancy. Pakistan has used it as a national security issue, especially when General Musharraf needed to impress the US, then engaged in a “war on terrorism”. Under Imran Khan, the government soft-peddled it, seeking social and economic reform.
If the army needed fighters and the political parties needed to consolidate their support base. Each of the ‘madaris’ the huge bodies of madrassas, is built by Islamist political parties and is inevitably, divided into Sunni-Shia lines and within the Sunnis, among the Deobandis, the Barelvis and other dominant sects. It has also exacerbated divisions and the resultant violence with the rise of the Barelvis of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). On the other hand, the suicide bombing at Mustang was by Sunnis to target the Shias. Also, the volatile Balochistan that is the end-point of the CPEC, has seen Mastung district witnessing a spate of terror incidents linked to the militant IS’s two local affiliates — the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) and the Islamic State in Pakistan Province (ISPP).
It is hardly surprising that the Islamist parties, like Maulana Fazlur Rahman’s JUI and the Jamaat-e Islami (JI) are among the principal critics of the army/caretaker government’s move to evict the unregistered Afghan nationals that have formed their support base for nearly five decades.
Islamist militancy is Pakistan’s problem that it must solve by reforming madrassa education. It cannot wish away their impact at home, the best example being the rise of the biggest security threat in the shape of Tehreeke-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).