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Pakistan on alert as TTP mounts comeback

With reports of some Taliban fighters being seen in the Swat valley, the authorities concerned are preparing a “contingency plan” to deal with the militant threat in case talks with the TTP collapsed….reports Asian Lite News

The Pakistan government is preparing a “contingency plan” to deal with the potential resurgence of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terror group after reports suggesting the banned outfit was trying to make a comeback, sources said.

Although the government has been holding talks with the TTP for months to broker some kind of a deal, prospects of such an agreement are grim, the sources told The Express Tribune.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif expressed his apprehensions about the success of the talks, while Pakistan’s special envoy on Afghanistan Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq had admitted the peace process was at a “nascent stage”.

With reports of some Taliban fighters being seen in the Swat valley, the authorities concerned are preparing a “contingency plan” to deal with the militant threat in case talks with the TTP collapsed.

Authorities have not closed the window of talks with the TTP, they are at the same time ready to deal with any eventuality, The Express Tribune reported.

Sources said the primary reason Pakistan entered into talks with the TTP was that the Afghan Taliban were reluctant to take any military action against the outfit.

Instead, the interim Afghan Taliban government was keen on Pakistan and the TTP to resolve their differences through talks.

Pakistan began negotiating with the TTP not out of choice but out of compulsion, according to the sources.

During one of the in-camera briefings given to MPs, the military leadership had said talks were in an initial phase and any deal with the TTP would be strictly in accordance with the Constitution and law.

It is believed that Pakistan is trying to exhaust all available options before resorting to any other steps to deal with the threat of the TTP.

The Afghan Taliban government is in a fix as it is reluctant to take any action against the TTP but at the same understands the importance of Pakistan, Express Tribune reported.

With the recent killing of Al Qaeda chief Aymen-Al-Zawahiri in Kabul, the Taliban government in Afghanistan has now come under increased pressure to cut ties to terrorist groups.

Zawahiri’s killing has diminished chances of the Taliban getting recognition in the foreseeable future.

If the issue of the TTP remains unaddressed, the Taliban may antagonise Pakistan, which has been their main advocate seeking legitimacy for the current government in Kabul, The Express Tribune said.

ALSO READ: Anti-Imran purge gathers steam in Pakistan

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Anti-Imran purge gathers steam in Pakistan

The TTP had been running riot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bolstered by the presence of a large number of senior functionaries who were released from prison after the Taliban swept into power in Kabul on August 15 last year…reports Asian Lite News

In Pakistan, a frontline state on the gates of Central and West Asia, the stage is set for a massive purge that targets former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Over the years the former premier had developed powerful nodes of influence in the military, radical Islamist organisations, the media and within civilian state institutions as well as an influential section of the civil society.

Over the past few days, a focused effort seems to have been launched by a hybrid-combination of the top military brass, personally led by the Army Chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, and the new government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to weed out pro-Imran loyalists from the system.

On Monday, the first clear sign of the purge came when Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, known to be close to Khan, was removed as commander of the Peshawar based XI corps and shifted to Bahawalpur. This was Gen. Hameed’s second major transfer. He was earlier removed as the chief of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-a position that Khan wanted him to occupy. Gen. Hamid was moved to Peshawar. But he was still tasked with a major responsibility-of conducting a dialogue, through tribal intermediaries and the Afghan Taliban, with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or the Pakistan Taliban.

The TTP had been running riot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bolstered by the presence of a large number of senior functionaries who were released from prison after the Taliban swept into power in Kabul on August 15 last year.

Hameed’s transfer coincided with a massive IED blast that killed TTP’s top four leaders on Sunday, including top gun Maulvi Omar Khalid Khorasani. Seemingly, all bridges for the continuation of a dialogue have been burnt with the strike, and Gen. Hameed’s role in peace talks has been, in all likelihood, terminated.

Known for his hatred towards Christians, Khorasani was on the drone list of the Americans, who had already offered a $3 million dead or alive reward on his head.

After Hameed’s transfer the anti-Imran purge had been further energised. On Tuesday, Khan’s trusted Lieutenant Shahbaz Gill was arrested and charged with sedition. If the charges are proven, he could face the death penalty-a prospect that is bound to sow fear among Khan’s senior supporters belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party that the former premier heads.

The knives are out for Gill because he virtually called for a revolt within the army establishment during a discussion programme on the pro-Imran ARY television channel.

It can now be expected that the trail of Gill’s investigation will tighten the noose around Khan, making him the mastermind of the “seditious” remarks. “The comments were according to the script prepared under the supervision of PTI Chairperson Imran Khan which was carried forward by former information minister Fawad Chaudhry and Gill,” the interior minister Rana Sanaullah said, during a press conference.

The ongoing purge is likely to have at least three major consequences. First, the marginalisation of Khan and the PTI is likely to generate a power vacuum which can be expected to be filled by the anti-Khan camp-a process that could be capped with the arrival from London of the in-exile former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, underwritten by a pruned military that has been shaped by Gen. Bajwa.

Second, with a dominantly pro-west dispensation in power, US influence in Pakistan is bound to increase. The military is expected to back the shift, as Gen. Bajwa enjoys excellent ties with the West. In fact, Pak media reports suggest that on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s insistence, Gen. Bajwa called the US Deputy Secretary State Wendy Sherman, requesting her to facilitate the early release of the $1.2 billion first instalment of an IMF loan that a cash strapped Pakistan badly needs. Besides, three days before the terror kingpin Ayman Al Zawahiri was shredded by a hellfire missile in Kabul on July 31, Gen. Bajwa was on the phone with US Central Command Chief General Michael Erik Kurilla, leading to speculation that the Pak military had coordinated with the Americans the fatal drone strike.

Third, the purge is bad news for the Chinese whose CPEC projects are likely to suffer, especially as the IMF is likely to scrutinise the project details, pick holes in them, before parting with its loans. Already, News International website is reporting that the China-built Dasu hydropower project’s stage -1 with the capacity to generate 2160 MW hydel electricity has been delayed by three years, resulting in cost overrun of Rs 100 billion.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

ALSO READ-Imran’s top aide arrested on sedition charges

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Killing of TTP top guns shows rift over truce talks with Pakistan

While no group has claimed responsibility for the separate deadly blasts that killed the commanders, experts suggest they could be result of an internal rift over the prospect of a lasting truce with Islamabad…reports Asian Lite News

The killing of four top commanders of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan has struck a major blow to the terror group and cast doubts over a ceasefire and ongoing peace talks between the extremists and the Islamabad government, a report said.

In the wake of the killings, which occurred on August 7, the TTP leadership has held frantic discussions about how to deal with the loss of some of its top guns, the RFE/RL report quoted observers as saying.

While no group has claimed responsibility for the separate deadly blasts that killed the commanders, experts suggest they could be result of an internal rift over the prospect of a lasting truce with Islamabad, which the TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, has fought to overthrow since 2007.

At stake is the future of an indefinite truce between the militants and Islamabad, as well as talks aimed at ending the TTP’s deadly insurgency.

Continuing the ceasefire that has been in place for about two months could create bad blood among the TTP’s leadership, experts say.

But scrapping the truce and peace talks could lead to pressure from the Haqqani network, a powerful Afghan Taliban faction that hosts the TTP in Afghanistan and is believed to have close ties to the Pakistani intelligence services, they say, RFE/RL reported.

The negotiations have been mediated by the Afghan Taliban, which has close ideological and organisational ties with the TTP. The Afghan militant group is also a longtime ally of Islamabad.

The TTP leadership has used Afghanistan as a sanctuary and staging ground for attacks against Islamabad since a major military offensive in 2014 drove the militants across the border.

The details of the killings remain murky.

While the TTP has confirmed the deaths of Abdul Wali (alias Omar Khalid Khorasani), Mufti Hassan Swati, and Hafiz Dawlat Khan Orakzai as they travelled in southeastern Afghanistan, it is unclear whether their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb or a drone strike.

All three were believed to oppose peace talks with Pakistan, RFE/RL reported.

Some have suggested that the three were headed to a meeting with representatives of the Afghan Taliban in the Barmal district of Paktika Province, which borders the Pakistani districts of North and South Waziristan.

“It has yet to be ascertained what really happened, but the area where the three top TTP leaders were reported killed was once the stronghold of the Haqqani network,” RFE/RL quoted Afrasiab Khattak, an analyst and former Pakistani senator, as saying.

Another top TTP commander, intelligence chief Abdul Rashid (alias Uqabi Bajauri), was killed just hours earlier by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar Province.

The four killings came just days after A -Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri was assassinated in a US drone strike on his safe house in a posh area of Kabul believed to be under the control of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Afghan Taliban’s interior minister and head of the Haqqani network.

Khorasani, who had a $3 million US bounty on his head, was a founding member of the TTP and was considered to be its most important and ruthless commander.

He formed his own militant group, Jamat ul-Ahrar (JuA), in 2013. But he rejoined the TTP after current leader Noor Wali Mehsud took over in 2018.

Khorasani was a harsh critic of the government in Pakistan, and had consistently opposed negotiations between the TTP and Islamabad, RFE/RL reported.

In 2014, Khorasani and the JuA were responsible for the massacre of 23 captured Pakistani soldiers as the TTP held peace talks with Pakistani authorities. Khorasani’s JuA also claimed responsibility for a bomb blast in 2016 in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore that killed nearly 70 people, mostly from the Christian minority.

The two other TTP commanders killed alongside Khorasani in Afghanistan, Hassan and Dawlat, were also averse to the peace talks. The two had declared allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) terror group’s chief Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi in 2015.

But they returned to the TTP after Khorasani merged the JuA into the fold of the TTP.

A Peshawar-based researcher said the killing of the TTP commanders is more indicative of an internal rift within the group than any outside factors, RFE/RL reported.

There were suspicions among the TTP’s leadership, the researcher says, about Hassan and Dawlat’s allegiance due to their past links with IS. And in some circles, Hassan had been accused of having ties to the Western-backed Afghan government that was ousted by the Afghan Taliban in August 2021, he adds.

In one big change, a Pakistani military officer who was seen as the architect of the peace process has been transferred from the northwestern city of Peshawar in the wake of the killings.

Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, a former intelligence chief, was removed from his post as corps commander in Peshawar on Monday.

Hameed had recently met the TTP chief in Kabul during which they agreed on the terms of a possible permanent truce.

His transfer has raised questions within the TTP about the future of the talks, sources within the militant group say, RFE/RL reported.

ALSO READ: Did Pakistan and US work together to kill Khorasani?

ALSO READ: Pakistan accused of systematic custody killings in Ziarat encounter

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Did Pakistan and US work together to kill Khorasani?

From a geopolitical perspective, the Americans have been virtually thrown out of Central Asia, creating a power vacuum which regional powers are jostling to fill. …writes Atul Aneja

Feverish moves are being played out on the AfPak chessboard, which became visible on July 31 when a Hellfire missile fired from a drone ripped apart Ayman Al Zawahiri, the terror kingpin of the dreaded Al Qaeda.

The Sunday morning attack took place when Zawahiri was standing on the balcony of a safehouse, arranged for him by the Haqqani network, led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the interior minister of the current Taliban government, which planted itself in Kabul on August 15 last year. The anchorage of the Taliban has deeply affronted the Americans, who had to unceremoniously exit Kabul under fire.

From a geopolitical perspective, the Americans have been virtually thrown out of Central Asia, creating a power vacuum which regional powers are jostling to fill. Washington is now attempting to claw back a foothold in AfPak, presumably with the active support of Pakistan, their old partners in crime.

Apart from Zawahiri’s killing, two other major seemingly unconnected back-to-back events have taken place. But when examined closely they may have threaded together a dramatic change-the coming together of the Pakistan military and the American security establishment once again. It is likely that both have discovered that they need to work together against a common adversary – the increasingly hostile Taliban in all its avatars including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or the Pakistan Taliban. Here, a little bit of a back story is important to connect the dots.

After the Americans left Kabul last year, the former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and a pro-Imran Khan acolyte, Lt.General Faiz Hameed, was entrusted in conducting a dialogue with an increasingly rebellious TTP, which wanted to cross the colonial era Durand line and unite all Pashtuns on either side of the fence.

Gen. Hameed, who was removed by Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa from his post in the ISI and shifted to Peshawar as the commander of XI Corps led a hybrid team which included tribal elders to dialogue with TTP.

Sirajuddin Haqqani from the Afghan Taliban anchored the talks. The dialogue was apparently making serious progress. It had boiled down to the TTP’s demand that the loosely governed Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where its cadres once roamed freely, should be returned to its original administrative status. In other words, the group was demanding that the mutation of the FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province – a conversion that the Imran Khan government had marshalled in 2018 –needed to be scrapped.

But before this could happen , the entire dialogue process seems to have been irreversibly overturned. From Peshawar, Gen. Hameed, potentially seen as a rival to Gen. Bajwa has been shifted to Bahawalpur as the corps commander, according to a Pakistani military notification issued on Monday. In all probabilities, he will now relinquish his previous duties of engaging in a dialogue with the TTP.

The move of plucking out Gen. Hameed from the dialogue process now seems connected to another mega-development in the AfPak theatre.

On Sunday, four top honchos of the TTP, who were travelling together in a vehicle, were killed in a IED (Improvised Explosive Device) blast. The attack took place in the Birmal area of Afghanistan’s Paktika province.

Those killed were Maulvi Abdul Wali aka Maulvi Omar Khalid Khorasani, Mufti Hasan, Hafiz Dawlat Khan and the son-in-law of Abdul Wali.

The BBC Urdu service is reporting that Khorasani, a big gun, was one of the founding members of TTP. It is here that the American connection comes in strongly.

The US in fact had placed a dead or alive reward, of $ 3 million on Khorasani’s head. And the Americans meant business. In 2015, the US targeted him at a place called Perchau – a border area between Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province and Pakistan. Khorasani escaped but was seriously injured in the attack.

Other TTP bigwigs were not so lucky. Former TTP chiefs, Baitullah Mehsud and Hakimullah Mehsud were killed in drone strikes. Other high-ups who were droned down include Qari Hussain Mehsud and Maulana Fazlullah Khorasani.

While there is a general perception that Khorasani was killed in an IED blast on Sunday evening, a spokesperson of the TTP has raised the possibility that the four could have died in a drone strike. “They were travelling in a vehicle in Paktika province where they died in a mysterious blast. We have received the bodies and are investigating whether they were killed in a drone strike or in an IED explosion,” The News quoted a senior member of the Pakistani Taliban as saying.

It appears from the present state of investigation that Khorasani’s killing was a sequel to the droning down of Zawahiri. Zawahiri’s death served a body blow to the Taliban, as it is a credible pointer that the group was sheltering the arch-terrorist, despite claiming the Taliban 2.0 had washed its hands of terror. The process of Taliban’s international recognition and unfreezing of billions of dollars of funds that the Taliban badly needs has been effectively stalled by the Americans after Zawahiri’s killing. This is a significant counter blow to the Taliban which had been largely responsible for Washington’s humiliating exit almost a year ago.

There is considerable speculation that after the exit of pro-China Imran Khan and the marginalisation of his supporters such as Lt. Gen. Hameed in the military, the Pakistani top brass and the Americans have revived their active collaboration against global terrorists who could pose a common threat. This is reminiscent of the heydays of the Global War on Terror when the Pak military handed over to the Americans such Al Qaeda luminaries as Khalid Al Sheikh and Abu Zubaydah, who ended up in the dungeons of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

It has been extensively noted in the media that a day before the attack , Gen. Bajwa held a widely reported telephonic conversation with the Commander of the US Central Command, where the Army Chief conveyed to the Americans that “Pakistan values its relations with the US and earnestly looks forward to enhance mutually beneficial multidomain relations”.

It would not be surprising that if in return for collaborating with the Americans, the Pakistanis manage to get a much-needed loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bailout an anaemic economy going through a meltdown, and later escape from the clutches of Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Afterall Gen. Bajwa has gone the extra mile to personally calling US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to speed up disbursal of $1.2 billion loan from the IMF just after the harpoon missile shredded Zawahiri.

Regarding talks with the TTP, it is quite likely that after Khorasan’s killing and Gen. Hameed’s exit, the dialogue will be stalled, and Pakistan, with active support from the US will go for muscular strikes against the group.

The TTP also appeared disinclined to continue talks. “We started investigations to ascertain who could have been involved in their killings. After the investigations are complete, we will issue a detailed statement on whether or not to continue the peace talks with Pakistan,” a TTP representative told The News.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

ALSO READ: Probe against Pakistani charities launched

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Pakistan accused of systematic custody killings in Ziarat encounter

In an unprecedented attack on the Pakistani army, rebels from the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) had kidnapped Lt. Col. Laiq Baig Mirza of the Pakistani army along with his cousin when they were travelling from Ziarat to Quetta…reports Rahul Kumar

Baloch National Movement (BNM), the Baloch nationalist organisation seeking independence from Pakistan has said that security forces kidnapped 46 people, of which 28 were released after torture. In its July report it also said that the most egregious violation of human rights was the Ziarat killing in which Pakistani agencies killed 11 people in custody.

Talking about the excesses in Balochistan, which is witnessing a powerful insurgency since 1948, the human rights secretary of BNM, Dr Nazir Noor said: “a new chapter was added regarding custodial killings of forcibly disappeared persons… Earlier, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the police under the Pakistan Army had killed many forcibly disappeared persons in fake encounters. But it is for the first time that in immediate response to the action of a Baloch pro-freedom organisation, 11 forcibly disappeared people were killed in custody and termed attackers”.

In an unprecedented attack on the Pakistani army, rebels from the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) had kidnapped Lt. Col. Laiq Baig Mirza of the Pakistani army along with his cousin when they were travelling from Ziarat to Quetta. He was later found dead while his cousin’s body was discovered in a different place.

In response, a vengeful Pakistani army claimed on July 16 that it had found and killed nine ‘terrorists’ who were directly involved in the kidnapping of Lt. Col. Laiq Baig Mirza. However, Baloch families recognised seven of the dead ‘terrorists’ as people who had been missing after having been kidnapped by the security forces, leading to an uproar among the Baloch community. After an uproar by relatives, the provincial government in Balochistan announced the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the Ziarat encounter.

However, Noor alleged that the Pakistani government and the State institutions have shown a total “lack of interest and non-cooperation” in identifying the persons killed in custody.

Among the other notable incidents of violence against the Baloch, the BNM alleged that they believe that a Baloch asylum seeker in Azerbaijan Saqib Karim Baloch “died under mysterious circumstances”, adding that “his family members expressed fears that the cause of his death could be murder”.

BNM said that a Baloch refugee Jalam Khan living in Afghanistan was “publicly killed by paid agents of the Pakistani army. We demand the Afghan government to expose the killers and take concrete measures to protect the Baloch refugees living in Afghanistan”.

The BNM alleged that construction projects by the Pakistani government “designed for foreign interests in Balochistan also lead to diversion of flood and rainwater towards the population”. It alleged that under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a network of roads across Balochistan have been constructed but the natural flow of rivers has not been taken into account due to which the floods badly damaged agricultural lands, crops, gardens, livestock and plantations.

The organisation said that the residents of Gwarast, Girishag, District Khuzdar held a protest against the CPEC.

The BNM blamed the devastation on the CPEC and appealed to international organisations to evaluate the quality of construction of infrastructure and dams built under the massive project.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

ALSO READ: Probe against Pakistani charities launched

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ARY News senior VP arrested hours after channel taken off air

PTI leader Murad Saeed has strongly condemned the late-night arrest of the senior journalist…reports Asian Lite News

A day after the transmission of Pakistani television station ARY News was taken off air by the country’s regulatory authorities, the outlet’s senior Vice President Ammad Yousaf was arrested from Karachi in the early hours of Wednesday, the channel said.

Yousuf’s arrest comes after the channel, which is the country’s biggest private broadcaster, was served a showcause notice by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on Monday.

ARY News said that its journalist was arrested by Karachi Police and a raiding team broke into his house from the main gate in the middle of the night. It has termed Yousaf’s arrest as retaliation by the government against the channel and noted that police officers in plain clothes forcibly entered the journalist’s house.

PTI leader Murad Saeed has strongly condemned the late-night arrest of the senior journalist.

Regulatory watchdog PEMRA has alleged that the channel was airing “false, hateful and seditious” content based on “absolute disinformation with a clear and present threat to national security by instigating rebellion within the armed forces”, Dawn reported. In its notice to the news outlet, the regulatory watchdog also termed the news anchor who delivered the news as “biased.”

PEMRA has also directed the channel’s CEO to appear in person for a hearing today (August 10).

The entire episode was perpetuated due to a news piece aired by the channel on how the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has reportedly activated its strategic media cell to malign Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman and the country’s former prime minister Imran Khan.

The PEMRA notice to ARY News alleged that PTI leader Shehbaz Gill had made “highly hateful and seditious” remarks tantamount to “incite armed forces towards revolt,” Dawn reported.

Shortly after ARY News was taken off air, PTI leader and close aide of Imran Khan, Shahbaz Gill was arrested in Islamabad on Tuesday.

An Islamabad police spokesperson said that Gill has been taken into custody for inciting the public against the state institutions, Geo News reported.

“After the ban on ARY yesterday, they’ve today arrested @SHABAZGIL. Pakistan is living under a fascist imported government, who doesn’t care about the human rights of the people of Pakistan. We strongly demand the immediate release of Dr Gill,” Imran Khan’s PTI tweeted yesterday.

PTI leader and former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Gill was picked up from Banigala Chowk by unidentified personnel in cars with missing number plates.

Meanwhile, the former prime minister slammed the arrest, asking “can such shameful acts take place in any democracy?” “This is an abduction not an arrest. Can such shameful acts take place in any democracy? Political workers treated as enemies. And all to make us accept a foreign-backed government of crooks,” Imran Khan tweeted.

After the arrest of Gill, the country’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the current government has not broken the law and the arrest was legal.

In another key development, Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) leader Moonis Elahi said that he is sending Punjab Police for the protection of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s residence Banigala.

Former interior minister of Pakistan and Awami Muslim League chief, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed has warned the Shehbaz Sharif-led Pakistan government saying that if anyone tries to arrest Imran Khan that would trigger instability and bloody politics in the country. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Pakistani channel suspended in another curb on media freedom

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Imran’s top aide arrested on sedition charges

Another PTI leader Murad Saeed also reported his arrest and said that the glass windows of his car were broken. He also claimed that an assistant of Gill was beaten up…reports Asian Lite News

PTI leader and Imran Khans chief of staff, Shehbaz Gill, has been arrested on sedition charges, media reports said.

Imran Khan has called an emergency meeting of the party over the arrest. Gill’s arrest was first reported by PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry and Murad Saeed on Twitter, Samaa TV reported.

“Shahbaz Glll has been abducted from Bani Gala Chowk by people who came in vehicles without number plates,” Chaudhry said in a tweet.

Bani Gala Chowk is located around one kilometre from Imran Khan’s Bangi Gala residence.

Another PTI leader Murad Saeed also reported his arrest and said that the glass windows of his car were broken. He also claimed that an assistant of Gill was beaten up.

A video shared by PTI’s official Twitter handle showed broken glass. There was no official word on the �arrest’ of Gill. However, police sources said that Gill has been detained in connection with an FIR registered against him, Samaa TV reported.

He faces sedition charges and has been accused of incitement in connection with a troll campaign against institutions, the sources said. Gill has been moved to an undisclosed location.

A joint investigation team is probing a troll campaign that was launched immediately after a Pakistan Army helicopter crashed in Balochistan’s Lasbela district.

Murad Saeed, in his tweets, said that a “horrible plan” had been hatched yesterday (Monday) night.

Saeed did not elaborate on the alleged plan he was referring to. However, Sheikh Rasheed, a close ally of Imran Khan, also spoke about Khan’s possible arrest and disqualification.

Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed has warned the Shehbaz Sharif-led Pakistan government saying that if anyone tries to arrest Imran Khan that would trigger instability and bloody politics in the country.

Taking to Twitter on Tuesday, Sheikh Rasheed said, “The two-vote government, with 15 coalition parties, is going rampant. Their failed agenda is to disqualify Imran Khan and qualify Nawaz Sharif. Economic destruction, political instability, extortion and terrorism. The beginning of his politics will be buried.”

“The security of the country is more important than national politics and power. Afghanistan’s instability will also affect Pakistan. Extortion and suicide attacks have begun. Desires of the government cannot make news,” he said adding that arresting Imran Khan or planning to break PTI will be the start of bloody politics.

The former federal minister’s statement came right after the government filed references against the PTI chairman in prohibited funding and Toshakhana cases.

Moreover, the Federal Investigation Agency has also launched a probe into the illegal funding and has summoned senior PTI leaders to appear before it, The News International reported.

Blaming the Shehbaz government for Pakistan’s economy, the former federal minister further said that China is thinking well of Pakistan and the rulers should understand its signals.

The agenda is to disqualify Imran Khan and make Nawaz Sharif eligible, he said. (IANS/ANI)

ALSO READ: Imran in trouble after chief of staff Shahbaz Gill’s arrest

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Probe against Pakistani charities launched

In its verdict, the ECP observed the ‘unknown accounts’ and said that hiding accounts are a “violation of the Constitution”…reports Asian Lite News

Amid an ongoing probe into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s prohibited funding case agencies in the United Kingdom have started investigations into misuse of funds by Pakistan charity organizations into misuse of funds.

Sources privy to the matter said that the British agencies have started the investigation against Pakistani charities after UK’s Charity Commission and the National Crime Agency received complaints, according to local media reported. Both institutions are investigating the case.

According to local media, it has been alleged that funds collected in the name of charitable organizations have been sent to Pakistan but were used for political purposes.

Sources, cited in the media, further said that funds were collected in Britain in the name of a hospital and university established in Pakistan, which was later used for political purposes. British investigative agencies have been given the complaints with the evidence.

Along with the application, the detailed decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against PTI in the foreign funding case, a report published in the Financial Times, and details of accounts of the political parties have also been provided to the investigating agencies, the sources said.

Pakistan’s FIA has summoned 10 leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf including former National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, Mian Mahmood-ur-Rashid, former MPA Seema Zia and others to address questions during the probe.

The probe agency has also identified four employees of the PTI secretariat, whose personal and salary accounts were used for receiving foreign funding. The agency said funds were received in the bank accounts of Muhammad Arshad, Tahir Iqbal, Muhammad Rafique, and Nauman Afzal. In the statements, the PTI employees said that they used to give the money received in their accounts to PTI’s finance manager, according to a report in local Pakistan newspaper.

They said they would give signed blank cheques to the finance manager. According to the publication, the FIA came to know during the investigation that besides other accounts, foreign funding was also received in employees’ salary accounts.

FIA earlier constituted a six-member team to probe the case.

This investigation came a few days after the three-member Election Commission of Pakistan bench in a unanimous verdict ruled that the PTI received prohibited funding in the case pending since 2014, Geo News reported.

Akbar S Babar, the man who blew the lid off the scam involving the inflow of dubious foreign funds into Imran Khan’s political outfit Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) formally approached the FIA to initiate a probe against the PTI on Wednesday.

Babar told the FIA that the PTI’s financial board in 2011 illegally authorised four employees of the party’s central secretariat to collect donations in their personal accounts from within Pakistan and abroad.

In its verdict, the ECP observed the ‘unknown accounts’ and said that hiding accounts are a “violation of the Constitution”.

Moreover, it found that PTI Chairman and former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan submitted a false Nomination Form I.

The ECP decided to issue a show-cause notice to the PTI to explain why the commission should not seize the funds it received.

ALSO READ-Pakistani channel suspended in another curb on media freedom

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Pakistani channel suspended in another curb on media freedom

As the news outlet shutdown continued, many leaders of Imran Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took to Twitter and registered their protests…reports Asian Lite News

Hours after a Pakistani media portal aired a report that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has reportedly activated its strategic media cell to malign Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, the outlet was suspended, in a clear violation of Islamabad High Court (IHC) orders which barred Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) from the closure of the news channel.

Transmission of Pakistan’s local media outlet ARY News was suspended in different parts of Pakistan on Monday.

In the details provided by the media outlet itself, it came to light that the barring of the channel took place following the orders of PEMRA to the cable operator.

ARY News’ transmission was suspended in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Faisalabad and other cities.

As the news outlet shutdown continued, many leaders of Imran Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took to Twitter and registered their protests.

Among those who protested online were PTI leader Shireen Mazari, Shahbaz Gill, and others. They shared screenshots showing the suspension of ARY News transmission on Nayatel (an Internet Service Provider in Pakistan).

The ban came after ARY News reported that the ruling PML-N built a narrative to prove that the rival PTI is an anti-military and anti-armed forces power. The media portal claimed that the report emerged to be true.

Earlier, a report compiled by the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors highlighted that Pakistan’s media freedom has been under serious question.

The media freedom report paints an abysmal picture of the realities of being a journalist in the country. It highlights how, in the last year alone, many journalists were killed in the line of duty and how overall attempts to stifle the media and block access to information have grown, according to Dawn.

In the past year, the financial standing of media houses has also worsened. Two media workers took their own lives due to unemployment. The situation today, the report concludes, is worse than during the previous two years.

The report is a damning indictment of the state of freedom of the press in the country, but it only just about captures the everyday hardships faced by journalists who risk their lives in mostly low-paid jobs to fulfil a critical role in our democracy, according to Dawn.

Media workers, both field reporters and desk staff are increasingly experiencing either harassment or financial hardship or both. They are being threatened, silenced and squeezed. Be it a prime-time TV anchor or a beat reporter, the threats exist for everyone. Even media group owners are not immune to such harassment. (ANI)

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Top TTP commander killed in Afghanistan

According to the TTP, Khorasani’s vehicle was targeted by a roadside bomb on Sunday in the Afghan province of Paktika, on the border with Pakistan…reports Asian Lite News

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Monday confirmed that one of its top commander, who was behind some of deadliest attacks in recent years, was killed in a bombing in Afghanistan.

Abdul Wali Mohmand, also known under the alias Omar Khalid Khorasani, was on the US State Department’s wanted list and was offering a reward of up to $3 million for information on his whereabouts, reports dpa news agency.

According to the TTP, Khorasani’s vehicle was targeted by a roadside bomb on Sunday in the Afghan province of Paktika, on the border with Pakistan.

At least two other commanders were also killed in the bombing which came exactly a week after a US drone strike in Kabul had killed Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Khorasani is thought to have been close to Al Qaeda’s founding leader Osama bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, but it wasn’t immediately known if there was any link between the drone strike and the bombing.

At one point, he broke away from TTP and formed his own group, Jamaat ul Ahrar.

His group carried out some of the deadliest attacks in Pakistan, including a bombing in the eastern city of Lahore in 2016 that killed at least 75 people from the minority Christian community on an Easter Sunday.

Khorasani later dissolved Jamaat ul Ahrar and rejoined the TTP in a group’s drive to reunify several estranged groups.

The US State Department described him as a former journalist and poet who studied at several madrasas in Pakistan.

There has been a fragile truce holding between Islamabad and the TTP for the past two months as peace talks brokered by the Afghan Taliban’s Haqqani network take place.

The TTP has killed nearly 80,000 Pakistanis in almost two decades of violence.

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