Sympathisers, supporters of terrorists live among us, says Nisar
Says info indicates another Peshawar like attack
ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday said the terror threat in Pakistan required great vigilance on the part of each citizen as “the sympathisers and supporters of these terrorists live among us.”
Lambasting propaganda and justifications for the attack on the Peshawar school, Nisar said the Pakistan Army had never targeted women and children.
“The Pakistan Army is highly responsible and disciplined,” Nisar said.
“Even Osama bin laden’s family was sent back to their countries in a dignified manner,” he added.
Speaking at a press conference Sunday, the interior minister said the people of Pakistan had been dealing with the threat of terrorism for many years now, but even greater unity was needed at this time. Nisar said information has been received that indicates terrorists are preparing to strike again and carry out another deadly attack like the one occurred in Peshawar.
“To fight terror, every Pakistani citizen has to play their part,’ said the interior minister.
He urged all citizens to be vigilant with regards to the terror threat.
“I welcome the strong condemnation of the terrorists by the country’s Ulema,” he said.
The interior minister also called on the media to play a responsible role, requesting that individuals who espouse hatred and bloodshed should not be given a platform to spread their message.
“This is exactly what these terrorists want, a medium for their hatred to be heard, the media must black out their message,” the interior minister pleaded.
Nisar also said that mobile phone SIMs play a very big role in terrorist attacks that are carried out. “In the Peshawar attack, five SIMs were issued by a private company that helped to facilitate the attack.
“We will see what action can be taken and whether an FIR can be lodged against the company,” he said.
The interior minister said that the fight against terrorism will be a long hard struggle.
“We must not let our guard down; this will be a long and difficult struggle,” he said.
“Don’t think of this as a game which will be over fairly shortly… Sri Lanka fought against terrorism for several years,” Nisar said.
“When you are in a state of war, difficulties have to be endured, we must be prepared for any eventuality,” the interior minister told the press conference. "We will have to stay alert to thwart another possible terrorist act," Chaudhry Nisar said.
He also asked the owners of hotels to verify credentials of the guests before checking them in for stay.
He said a telephone number would be provided to the people so that they can inform about any suspicious item or individual that they come across. He called upon every citizen to come forward and do his bit towards the war against terrorism.
Four convicts in Musharraf attack case executed
FAISALABAD: Four death-row prisoners, who were convicted for involvement in an attack on former military ruler Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf, were executed on Sunday at a district jail in Faisalabad.
Civilians Zubair Ahmed, Rasheed Qureshi, Ghulam Sarwar Bhatti and Russian citizen Akhlaque Ahmed were shifted from Faisalabad Central jail to the death cell in a district jail late on Saturday.
The prisoners had to be shifted to a district jail under strict security measures because the lever which is used to open the trapdoor to carry out hangings was not present in the Central jail.
Family members of the death-row prisoners were allowed to meet the convicts for the last time prior to the hanging.
Security was tightened in the city to avoid any untoward incident. Additional contingents of security personnel were deployed while containers and barricades were placed on the routes leading to the district jail.
Similarly preparations were underway in Lahore for the execution of four death row prisoners in Kot Lakhpat Central Jail. The executions are expected to be carried out within the next 24-36 hours. All routes leading to the jail were sealed with the deployment of military personnel and installation of cellphone jammers around the jail premises.
In Sukkur, authorities called in the relatives of two terrorists, belonging to the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi who had been sentenced to death 10 years ago in a sectarian killing case, to hold a final meeting on Monday.
An antiterrorism court on Friday had issued black warrants for Attaullah alias Qasim and Mohammad Azam alias Sharif who had been given death sentence by an antiterrorism court in July 2004 for killing Dr Ali Raza Peerani on sectarian grounds in June 2001 in the Soldier Bazaar area.
Both terrorists were arrested from Karachi. Tuesday has been decided the day of their execution.
Earlier on Friday, two former military men were executed in the Faisalabad district jail. Usman a former soldier of the army’s medical corps, was executed in relation to an attack on the headquarters of the Pakistan Army in 2009 in Rawalpindi. Arshad Mehmood, who was a trooper and also hanged, was among five convicts who were handed out the death sentence for their role in an Al Qaeda-inspired assassination attempt on Musharraf’s life in late 2003.
The hangings on Friday were the first death sentences carried out after the government ended a six-year moratorium on executions on Wednesday, in response to the Peshawar tragedy.
In response, Taliban groups released messages vowing revenge for the deaths of their comrades-in-arms.
Mourners chant ‘death to terrorists’
PESHAWAR: Thousands of people flocked to the Army Public School on Sunday to mourn the more than 140 people — mainly children — massacred by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and demand action against militants.
Men, women and children from Peshawar and other cities visited the army-run institution to offer prayers for those killed in the country’s deadliest-ever terror attack.
Pakistan has described Tuesday’s bloody rampage as its own “mini 9/11”, calling it a game-changer in the fight against extremism. Mourners placed flowers, bouquets, placards and lighted candles in front of photos of murdered students.
Masons laid bricks and poured cement to raise the height of the wall around the Army Public School as mourners chanted slogans such as “Death to terrorists”, “Long live Pakistan army”, “The blood of martyrs will not go waste” and “Taliban are savages”.
“What kind of a person can kill a child?” asked local resident Imdad Hussain, who came to pray for the children. “What kind of justice is this?” he asked, urging the government swiftly to wipe out terrorists.
A local woman, her face covered with a shawl, said parents had thought their sons and daughters would be safe in school. But now they believed their children were not safe anywhere.
“First they attacked mosques, then markets and now they have started attacking schools. We cannot tolerate this. We can die, but we will not let our children be killed,” she said.
Shugufta Bibi, 28, said her friend lost his son in Tuesday’s attack and she had come to pay respects to his memory. “I demand that the government close in on the terrorists and hang them in public,” Bibi said.
Tributes and condolences poured in on social media as well. The city’s Christian community will cancel Christmas celebrations and will just hold a service on Dec 25, said the Rev Patrick John of All Saints Church.
The school massacre has been condemned even by the Afghan Taliban, who are loosely affiliated with the TTP in Pakistan.
In a statement Sunday the regional Al-Qaeda chapter also expressed grief at the killings and urged fellow militants to target only security forces. “Our hearts are bursting with pain and grief over this incident,” said Osama Mehmood, spokesman for Al-Qaeda’s South Asia chapter.
After the school attack Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty, reinstating its use for terrorism-related cases.
Two militants convicted of separate offences were the first to face the noose. Human Rights Watch termed the executions “a craven politicised reaction to the Peshawar killings” and demanded that no further hangings be carried out.
The two militants hanged Friday in the central province of Punjab were Aqil, convicted of an attack on army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009, and Arshad Mehmood — sentenced for involvement in a 2003 assassination attempt on then-military ruler General Pervez Musharraf.
Pakistan put all its airports on red alert Saturday as the military intensified operations against militants in the troubled northwestern tribal areas. The TTP said the school attack by a suicide squad was revenge for the killing of militants’ families in that offensive.
The military has since June been waging the assault against longstanding TTP and other militant strongholds.
But a series of fresh strikes since the Peshawar attack, in which dozens of alleged militants were killed, suggest the campaign is being stepped up.
The army has also been deployed to guard major prisons housing militants. Officials have said there would be up to ten more executions in coming days. - AFP
Russia reacts to execution of its citizen
ISLAMABAD: Hours after the execution of its citizen, Akhlaque Ahmed, at a district jail in Faisalabad, Russia on Sunday said it repeatedly urged Pakistani authorities to reconsider his sentence.
Akhlaque, a Russian citizen and a Pakistani national, was among the four convicts involved in an attack on former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, who were hanged earlier Sunday.
Akhlaque was given death penalty by a military court in 2005. However, his execution was not carried out due to a moratorium on death penalty since 2008.
A few days ago, the ban on capital punishment was lifted in the wake of a barbaric attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that left at least 148 people, including 132 children dead.
A statement issued in Islamabad by the Russian Embassy said the Russian side had repeatedly approached the Pakistani authorities with a plea to reconsider the sentence of Akhlaque on humanitarian grounds.
“The Russian Embassy in Islamabad and the Russian citizen’s lawyers were making efforts to postpone carrying out the sentence,” the statement added.
The statement noted that according to the information from the Ministry of Interior, Akhalque along with his three accomplices were executed in Faisalabad.
PM promptly responded after Peshawar attack: Spokesman
ISLAMABAD: A government spokesman Sunday said that after terror attack in Peshawar, the prime minister was the first who took lead to immediately visit Peshawar and personally monitored the operation from Governor House.
He said the prime minister immediately summoned all parties conference (APC) that was attended by the leaders of all political parties of the country. The conference gave the world a message that all of them were united in the war against terrorism.
While issuing the APC’s declaration, the Prime Minister said all the political parties of Pakistan had admitted the fact that war against terrorism was their own war and for Pakistan’s security and stability. He said the parties had also resolved that the government, military and the people of Pakistan would continue this war against terrorism till the elimination of last terrorist.
After APC, the Prime Minister also clarified that there were no good or bad Taliban, rather all of them were terrorists and enemies of the country as well as the nation.
The spokesman said the credit for unfreezing the implementation of death sentence to terrorists also goes to the prime minister.
He said that pursuing an effective foreign policy, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif improved bilateral ties with Afghanistan
making both the countries understand each other’s point of view. Now both the countries were extending cooperation to each other in war against terrorism, he added. – APP
Maulana Aziz booked for threatening Altaf Hussain
MQM demands expanding operation against terrorists across the country
KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) on Sunday got a case registered against Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz for hurling murder threat on MQM chief Altaf Hussain.
The MQM blamed Maulana Abdul Aziz for justifying militant attack on Peshawar school and supporting the terrorists involved in the massacre. The MQM demanded immediate arrest of the cleric. The First Information Report (FIR) was registered in Azizabad police station on complaint of MQM's Arif Khan Advocate. The FIR includes sections relating to provocation, terrorism and cyber crimes.
MQM leaders said the cleric issued threats to Altaf Hussain in his video message.
MQM leaders, including Qamar Mansur, Dr. Farooq Sattar, Amir Khan, Haider Abbas Rizwi, were present at the police station to get the case registered. MQM also staged a protest demonstration outside Karachi Press Club against Maulana Aziz.
Meanwhile, speaking to media persons, MQM's Qamar Mansoor demanded of army chief General Raheel Sharif to expand the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency to other parts of country.
"There is no room in Pakistan for religious extremism. MQM was first to raise voice against Peshawar attack."
Qamar Mansur said MQM believes in rule of law and thus taken the legal course. He said Maulana Aziz indulged in character assassinatin of Altaf Hussain and hoped that the courts will give speedy justice to them.
He asked the people to rise against people like Maulana Aziz and said for how long they would continue paying Bhatta (extortion) to such people.
The MQM leader praised COAS General Raheel Sharif for courageously fighting terrorists and appealed him to act against those who are spreading sectarianism. - INP
PTI core committee condemns TTP, other outlawed outfits
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Sunday said it condemns terrorists acts carried out by the outlawed Tahrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other such outfits.
In a statement issued after the PTI core committee's meeting here, the party appealed to the entire nation to unite for the cause of uprooting terrorism from the country.
Spokesperson PTI, Shireen Mazari read out the statement which said there was no precedence of Peshawar-like incident in the entire history of Pakistan. "No justification can be presented for this heinous crime."
The statement said the PTI stands with the armed forces of Pakistan for weeding out the scourge of terrorism from the country.
Security forces arrest 70 suspects in Peshawar search operation
PESHAWAR: Security forces on Sunday arrested 70 suspects and recovered arms and ammunition during a search operation in the area around Army Public School near Peshawar’s Warsak Road.
The operation comes in the wake of a terrorist assault on the school which saw the massacre of over 140 people, mostly students on December 16 by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan gunmen.
The arrested accused were shifted to an unidentified location for investigation.
Earlier on December 20, five militants, including the brother of one of the masterminds of the attack, were killed in an encounter with security forces in the Koi Hassan Khel area of Frontier Region Peshawar.
IHC to hear Lakhvi’s plea today
ISLAMABAD: A division bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC) will hear the petition filed by Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi's, a key accused in Mumbai attack case today.
The IHC bench comprising Justice Noor-ul-Haq N. Qureshi and Justice Athar Minallah will hear the application of Lakhvi whose case is already under hearing in Anti Terrorism Court (ATC).
Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi's petition is against including Indian documents in challan of case against him.
The accused in his application filed through Rizwan Abbasi Advocate was of the view that documents comprising findings of Indian commission in Mumbai attack case could not be made part of case against him and IHC should declare the decision of ATC issued on June 11, 2014 in this regard, null and void. - INP
Man held from Faisalabad for APS attack
FAISALABAD: Law enforcement agencies on Sunday took into custody a suspect, Muhammad Arshad, from Toba Tek Singh for his alleged involvement and having links with the perpetrators of Peshawar massacre.
Arhsad is a resident of Mohallah Khursheed Abad, Kamalia of Toba Tek Singh.
Acting on intelligence lead, a special law enforcing team raided the suspect's house in the early hours of Sunday and detained. He was moved to an undisclosed location for further questioning.
A neighbour of Arshad revealed that "he [Arshad] was previously arrested in connection with his alleged involvement in the Islamabad Marriott Hotel suicide attack."
Sughran Bibi, mother of Muhammad Arshad, told that "my son-in-law, Muhammad Ashfaq, a resident of Chak No 497-GB Tehsil Sammundri is hiding in Afghanistan for the last many years".
"After marriage of my daughter with Ashfaq, we came to know that he used to frequently travel to Afghanistan," she said. "After the suicidal attack on Islamabad Marriott Hotel, my son Arshad and other relatives were taken into custody by the police." Thereafter, my daughter and other relatives have cut ties with Ashfaq, she added.
"Ashfaq, who was earlier running a mobile phone shop in Sammundri, managed to escape after the Marriot attack and went to Afghanistan," she said.
Sughran bibi further said that, "my son was released after interrogation but the police still suspects that he has links with Ashfaq."
However, a police source revealed that Arshad was taken into custody as his telephone data link him with some of the Peshawar incident perpetrators.
Terrorism has become a cancer for Pakistan: Gilani
PESHAWAR: Former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Sunday denounced terrorism as a cancer for Pakistan.
"Militancy is the biggest challenge being faced by Pakistan," Gilani said during a press conference in Peshawar after visiting families of victims of school attack. Pakistan, he said, was not prospering due to the menace of terrorism, he said, adding that "we are fighting our own war."
He said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government doesn't have resources to fight this war and called for enhancing capabilities of the security forces in the province.
The attack on school has shocked the nation, he said.
To a question, Gilani said Pakistan and Afghanistan were like twin brothers and suggested a common strategy by both countries to combat terrorism and extremism.
In addition, the former premier urged politicians to show maturity, set aside their differences and join hands to deal with the challenge of terrorism. - INP
Obama signs Coalition Support Fund extending assistance to Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: US President Barack Obama on Sunday signed a bill into law providing an extension to the Coalition Support Fund for Pakistan for another year, Radio Pakistan reported.
Earlier, BBC Urdu had reported, the American Congress’ decision to include in its final budget recommendations a one-year plan to extend the financial support given to Pakistan to fight militancy in the region — but with certain new demands.
In its budget of $521 billion, the US government extended the validity of financial assistance by one year, but also imposed some new terms and demands.
It was reported that the assistance extended to Pakistan under coalition support fund will not exceed $1 billion.
Moreover, the defence secretary was also stripped off his authority to sanction up to $300 million with the approval of Congress. Now the approval by Congress will be deemed necessary before any such withdrawal.
In order to sanction CSF to Pakistan, the US defence secretary will now have to take the House into confidence over the issue that military operation in North Waziristan has successfully targeted the safe havens of Haqqani Network.
According to Radio Pakistan, the Bill also assured continued US support to Afghanistan after the withdrawal of Nato forces.
Earlier, addressing his year-end news conference in Washington, President Obama renewed his pledge to end the US combat mission in Afghanistan within two weeks. - Agencies
India to seek clarification from UN on reference to Hafiz Saeed
NEW DELHI: Perturbed over calling 26/11 Mumbai terror-attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed as as “sahib” by a UN security council panel, India will seek a clarification on it from the world body.
It is understood that the government will seek the clarification on the usage in the communication by Gary Quilan, the chair of UN security council committee, on December 17.
Quinlan made the reference to Saeed in the communication on information regarding banned terror organization Lashkar-e-Taiba and Saeed pursuant to earlier UN resolutions concerning al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities.
The United Nations had declared JuD a terrorist organization in December 2008 as also Saeed who was also individually designated by the UN under UNSCR 1267 in December 2008. The resolution entails freezing of funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities and prevent the entry into or transit through their territories by designated individuals.
Hafiz Saeed was the mastermind behind 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
The United States had slapped a $10 million bounty on Saeed, the founder of LeT, and his brother-in-law in April 2003.
But Saeed roams free in Pakistan and often addresses public rallies in which he routinely makes inflammatory statements. - PTI
Eight bullet-riddled bodies uncovered in Balochistan
QUETTA: Levies personnel found eight bullet-riddled bodies in Balochistan’s Ziarat and Pishin district on Sunday morning.
Levies sources said that three bodies were found from Sanjavi area in Ziarat and three from Saranan area of Pishin district, while two other bodies were found from the Khanozai and Hikalzai areas of Pishin.
“All the victims had received multiple bullets from close range,” Levies said, adding that the bodies were yet to be identified.
The bodies were taken to a hospital for identification. A large number of law enforcers reached the site from where the bodies were found as an investigation into the incident was undertaken.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killings.
This incident has occurred few days after three other bodies were found from Yaro area of the Pishin district.