After a deadly clash between troops and activists at a security post in northern Pakistan, organisers of a rights movement that has unnerved the powerful army say a campaign of intimidation against them has intensified, with many top leaders detained. The military denies a crackdown against the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), which campaigns against alleged extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of Pashtuns and other ethnic minorities, but says it is acting against lawbreakers. Manzoor Pashteen, the PTM’s charismatic figurehead, said he has seen his closest aides detained. Two lawmakers who are part of the group’s leadership have also been arrested. “In the past, they wanted to stop protests. Now they want to stop the movement,” Pashteen, who says he is the only member of the group’s core leadership not in custody, told Reuters. “They have directly arrested the leadership and begun a campaign to malign them (on social media).” The PTM’s appeal among Pakistan’s more than 35 million Pashtuns – and its unusually direct criticism of the powerful military over alleged human rights violations – has brought it into conflict with the authorities, who allege it is being bankrolled by hostile neighbouring countries. The group has been barred from parts of the country and security forces have regularly tried to stop its rallies by arresting workers. Some analysts and senior PTM members believe the latest arrests targeting leaders and aides were an attempt to isolate Pashteen within the group and provoke more hardline elements into a violent response that could
India will not invite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the swearing-in of his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, two Indian government sources said, suggesting any early warming in ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours is unlikely. Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, and came close to a fourth in February after a suicide bomb attack by a Pakistan-based militant group killed at least 40 Indian police in the contested Kashmir region. Narendra Modi begins his second term as prime minister on Thursday after a convincing election victory which political analysts say was helped by his handling of that tension with Pakistan. The Indian government said in a statement on Monday the leaders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan – all members, with India, of the little-known Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) – had been invited to the swearing-in. “This is in line with government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” a government spokesman said. The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius have also been invited. But two sources in Indian’s foreign ministry said Pakistan will not be on the list, without providing further information. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi suggested the reason was India’s internal politics, after Modi had made “Pakistan bashing” the central theme of his election campaign. “To expect that he will get rid of his narrative and invite the entire opposition to criticise him, it was not possible,” Qureshi
“The guided bomb achieved the desired range and hit the target with high precision. All the mission objectives have been met,” read a press release from the Indian military’s research and development division. It came two days after the test of the BrahMos, a cruise missile with a 300 km range.
Pakistan’s information minister, Fawwad Chaudhry, told Reuters his office was “trying to establish close coordination” with Twitter to curb “hate speech and death threats”, but did not directly respond to questions on the case of Siddiqui, and another activist who received two warnings, Gul Bukhari.
Islamist protesters blocked roads in Pakistan’s major cities, opposing a Supreme Court decision to acquit Asia Bibi for blasphemy allegations. “They all three deserve to be killed,” TLP co-founder Muhammad Afzal Qadri told a protest in Lahore. “Either their security, their driver, or their cook should kill them.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has received official pledges of a six-billion-dollar loan to his country from Saudi Arabia, whose top leadership is involved in an international crisis of credibility over possible involvement in the killing of a Saudi dissident. Saudi Arabia pledged three billion dollars in foreign currency support for a year, and a further loan worth up to another three billion dollars in deferred payments for oil imports, to Pakistan, the Pakistani government announced in a statement on Tuesday.
“Blasphemy!” someone shouted, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan. In that instant, with one word, Asia Bibi’s fate was sealed.
“It’s almost impossible not to be moved by the real-life plight of this Pakistani Christian mother of five who has been convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death . . . a must-read.” –“Blackpool Gazette”
According to Bibi’s autobiography ‘Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death Over a Cup of Water’ the incident began when she went to retrieve a cup of water from a well during a hot day of fruit picking. “Now the water is unclear and we can’t drink it! Because of her!” the woman said. Several women called Bibi a “filthy Christian” and told her to convert to Islam.