Political crisis must end through political means, Army says

Army chief Raheel Sharif.

ISLAMABAD: After a lengthy four hour meeting at General Headquarters, the Pakistan Army corps commanders came out with a statement “reaffirming support to democracy” and reiterating that the current stand-off between the PML-N led government and the Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) needed a political solution.

The meeting, which was headed by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, saw the corps commanders reject “further use of force” in the crisis, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release stated.

The commanders also expressed “serious concern” over the violent turn of events in the federal capital.

“The Army remains committed to playing its part in ensuring security of the state and will never fall short of meeting national aspirations,” the press release stated.

Daily Sitara Sind News learnt that General Raheel Sharif took the commanders into confidence over his meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, PTI Chief Imran Khan and PAT Chief Tahirul Qadri last week.

The critical meeting, which was scheduled to be held on Monday morning, was pushed up to today in light of rapidly unfolding events.

The situation in Islamabad took on critical proportions after the clashes began late on Saturday and led to at least three reported deaths and countless injuries by Sunday night.

An apolitical army, for now

The meeting of the army commanders has a serious bearing on the prevailing scenario, given the fact that the military had engaged in ‘mediating’ the crisis between the government and PAT, PTI.

The Army’s message in support of the political process comes at a time when speculation is rife that the current crisis is being steered by, or has tacit approval from the powerful military establishment. The conclusions of the corps commanders meeting today will, for the moment, help in allaying fears of military intervention in the crisis.

Multiple events earlier in the week had suggested that the army and the government were not on the same page with regards to the PTI, PAT protests.

First the the government was left reeling from the blowback of asking the military to step in to alleviate the prevailing political crisis. Then a second jolt followed when the ISPR clarified that it was the government that had asked General Raheel Sharif to “facilitate” negotiations with the protesting parties, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had seemingly stated the exact opposite in the National Assembly.

The events revived concerns about the conventional issue in Pakistani politics: competition for power between the military and civilian leaders. The new statement from today’s meeting however, suggests the army remains apolitical, despite its direct involvement in the current crisis.

Army chief calls corps commanders meeting

Army chief Raheel Sharif.

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif has summoned a meeting of the corps commanders for Sunday evening, a day after the political impasse in Islamabad took the form of a full blown clash between protesters and law enforcement personnel.

Earlier, the meeting was scheduled to be held on Monday morning but its time was changed after the army chief held some consultations with the senior military commanders.

An ISPR spokesman had earlier said that the meeting which is to be chaired by General Raheel will discuss matters relating to the internal security situation.

Highly-placed sources told Daily Siatar Sindh  that the conference would also evolve its strategy to end the prevailing impasse.

The situation in Islamabad took on critical proportions after the clashes began late on Saturday and led to at least seven reported deaths and two hundred injuries.

Tomorrow’s meeting of the army commanders can have a serious bearing on the prevailing scenario, especially with the fact that the military had engaged in ‘mediating’ the crisis between the government and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Zarb-E-Azb

A Pakistan Army tank patrols a suspected militant area in North Waziristan. – Photo by ISPR/File

ISB: After Miramshah, two important villages of North Waziristan Boya and Degan, which were known to be strongholds of local and foreign militants, have been cleared by Pakistani armed forces.

“Consolidation of Boya and Degan is in progress,” said a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Saturday.

Terrorists are being eliminated and dislodged from their bases in North Waziristan as the operation progresses as per plan, it said.

The press release said that house to house search in Mussaki, Hurmez and Mirali Bazar was being carried out by integrated group of forces.

Terrorists holed up inside Mirali and surrounding areas have been firing rockets and mortars and using heavy machine guns and sniper rifles, said the statement, adding that four terrorists were killed during an exchange of fire last night.

According to ISPR, 12 IEDs were neutralised last night alone, while an IED making factory, huge cache of arms and ammunition and foreign currency were also recovered.

Corps Commander Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani also visited Mirali, Boya and Degan areas of North Waziristan Agency earlier today and met with the Army troops.

Relief work:

Meanwhile, distribution of relief items for IDPs continues at Bannu, D I Khan and Tank. 1,33,002 ration packs have been distributed so far. The statement said that 1639 tons of rations has been collected so far at 59 relief donations points established by Pakistan Army across the country and transported to Bannu.

It said about 30,000 patients have been treated at the Field Medical Hospital established at Khalifa Gul Nawaz Hospital Bannu by the Army.

About 16,060 cattle have also been provided veterinary treatment, while 40,278 cattle and 5,66,393 poultry have been vaccinated.

Nearly a million people have fled the offensive in North Waziristan, which is aimed at wiping out longstanding militant strongholds in the area, which borders Afghanistan.

Tens of thousands of families have left for the town of Bannu, close to North Waziristan, while hundreds more have moved further afield to the towns of Lakki Marwat, Karak and Dera Ismail Khan since the Operation Zarb-i-Azb began in mid-June.

PTI D – Chowk Jalsa – 11th May 2014

Kitnay Aadmi Thay Series – View 1

#SMQ Aj Tumhen Loadshedding Khtam Krne Ka Tarika Btata Hun…Sun’na Chahte Ho?…Jis Shehar Main Tum Ne Loadshedding Khtam Krni Hai Us Shehar Main Imran Khan Ko Jalsay Ki Daawat De Do #DChowk#11MayBlackDay #ISF

PTI Chairman Imran Khan and President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi

True patriots true leaders thumbs up for both Imran Khan & Makhdoom Javed Hashmi

Shahram Khan Tarakai (Health Minister KPK)

Azam Swati (President PTI KPK)

Ejaz Choudhry (PTI Punjab President)

APML Leader Sheikh Rasheed

Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressing a mammoth crowd

PTI President Javed Hashmi addressing the crowd

Mian Mehmood ur Rasheed (Punjab Assembly opposition leader) addressing the crowd

Kitnay Aadmi thay – View 2

Chairman Imran Khan arrives at DChowk

And the crowd roars …

Jahangir Khan Tareen, Saifullah Khan Nyazi and Ejaz Choudhry

Sheikh Rasheed and Imran Khan sharing a joke.

The leaders out to save Pakistan

The victory punch !!! PMLN tried to sabotage the rally, but PTI’s workers are as Junooni as they come … they reached DChowk in time to show that Pakistanis still care about Justice

Jahangir Khan Tareen addressing the crowd at DChowk

Faisal Javed Khan celebrates the success of DChowk Jalsa with the crowd

Baghiii Makhdoom Javed Hashmi addressing the Tsunami


“Want to thank all r ppl for making. r jalsa a Tsunami jalsa. Also want to thank the media 4 their support and coverage.” Chairman Imran Khan

“Want to esp thank r youth & all pti workers who overcame all PMLN hurdles 2 come 2 the jalsa which is the start of r movement.” Imran Khan

“PMLN’s desperate efforts 2 stop PTI workers from reaching Islamabad shows their utter fear their massive electoral fraud will be exposed.” Imran Khan

PTI Till my Last Breath

Imran khan the great leader in the world

Planes race to fresh MH370 search zone after ‘credible new lead’

PERTH: A multinational fleet of planes and ships raced Friday to a fresh search zone after a “credible new lead” that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was flying faster than first thought before it plunged into the remote Indian Ocean.

Ten aircraft from six countries – Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States – diverted to an area 1,100 kilometres (685 miles) northeast of where they have been looking for a week, far off western Australia.

Five Chinese ships and an Australian naval vessel were also steaming to the new zone of interest after the weather cleared following the suspension of the air search Thursday due to thunderstorms and high winds, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

“The new information is based on continuing analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost (with the missing plane),” AMSA said.

“It indicated that the aircraft was travelling faster than previously estimated, resulting in increased fuel usage and reducing the possible distance the aircraft travelled south into the Indian Ocean.” The new area is closer to land, meaning planes can spend more time searching before having to return to refuel, and the weather is expected to be better there.

The new search area “has moved out of the Roaring Forties (strong westerly winds), which creates very adverse weather frequently”, AMSA chief John Young told reporters in Canberra.

Satellite sightings of unidentified debris in recent days have raised hopes of finding wreckage from the Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8 with 239 people on board after veering sharply off course during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and flying thousands of miles southwards.

Malaysia believes the plane was deliberately redirected by someone on board, but nothing else is known.

Thailand Thursday reported a sighting of 300 floating objects. Japan also announced a satellite analysis indicated around 10 square floating objects, although it was not clear if these were in the zones the new search would focus on.

Japan’s Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Centre’s study showed the objects it sighted on Wednesday were up to eight metres in length and four metres wide.

Jiji Press cited an official at the office as saying they were “highly likely” to be from the plane.

The Thai and Japanese sightings came after satellite data from Australia, China and France had also shown floating objects possibly related to flight MH370. But nothing has so far been retrieved despite the huge multinational search.

“This is a credible new lead and will be thoroughly investigated today,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said of the revised search area.

The updated advice was provided by an international investigation team in Malaysia, with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau determining “that this is the most credible lead to where debris may be located”.

The new search area measures about 319,000 square kilometres (127,600 sq miles) and is around 1,850 kilometres west of Perth. Australia is re-positioning its satellites to focus on it.

 

Black box deadline

 


 

As the search intensifies, the United States said it was sending a second P-8 Poseidon – an advanced surveillance plane – to Perth.

 

Thursday’s suspension of the air search caused mounting concern as the clock ticks on the tracking signal emitted by the plane’s “black box” of flight data.

 

It will expire after roughly 30 days, around April 8.

 

The US Pacific Fleet has moved a Towed Pinger Locator hydrophone and Bluefin-21 Side-scan sonar to Perth, to try to locate the box as soon as an approximate crash site is established.

 

“It’s critical to continue searching for debris so we can reverse-forecast the wind, current and sea state since March 8th to recreate the position where MH370 possibly went into the water.” We’ve got to get this initial position right prior to deploying the Towed Pinger Locator since the MH370’s black box has a limited battery life and we can’t afford to lose time searching in the wrong area,” said Commander Tom Moneymaker, US 7th Fleet oceanographer.

 

Seeking closure, anguished families of those aboard are desperately awaiting solid evidence that might unlock one of aviation’s greatest riddles.

 

Until then, several of them refuse to accept the Malaysian government’s announcement – based on a complex British analysis of satellite data – that the plane was lost at sea.

 

Two-thirds of the passengers were from China and relatives there have accused the Malaysian government and airline of a cover-up and of botching their response.

 

In a letter to Beijing’s special envoy in Kuala Lumpur, they denounced Malaysia’s handling of the search and asked the Chinese government to set up its own “investigation office”.

 

A committee set up by relatives has also been in contact with US lawyers about a possible lawsuit against Malaysia Airlines.

 

“We question Malaysia’s motivations in misleading and delaying so as to miss the best moment to find MH370,” the relatives wrote in the letter to special envoy Zhang Yesui Thursday, blasting Kuala Lumpur’s behaviour as “irresponsible” and “inhumane”.

 

“We earnestly request that China establish an investigation office into MH370.”

Saudi Arabia lists Muslim Brotherhood among ‘terror’ groups

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Friday listed the Muslim Brotherhood and two Syrian groups as terrorist organisations and ordered citizens fighting abroad to return within 15 days or face imprisonment.

The latest move represents a major escalation against the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and indicates rising concern in Riyadh over the possible return of battle-hardened Saudis extremists from Syria.

In addition to the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi listed Al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a rogue group fighting in both Syria and Iraq, as terrorist organisations.

It also listed as terrorist groups the Shiite Huthi rebels fighting in northern Yemen and a little-known internal Shia group called Hezbollah in the Hijaz.

Saudi and other conservative Gulf monarchies have long been hostile towards the Muslim Brotherhood, fearing that its brand of grass-roots activism and political Islam could undermine their authority.

Riyadh is a staunch supporter of the Sunni-led rebels battling to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but has long feared blowback from radical groups, particularly after a spate of attacks by a local Al-Qaeda franchise from 2003 to 2006.

King Abdullah last month decreed jail terms of up to 20 years for belonging to “terrorist groups” and fighting abroad.

Similar sentences will be passed on those belonging to “extremist religious and ideological groups, or those classified as terrorist organisations, domestically, regionally and internationally,” state news agency SPA said at the time.

Supporting such groups, adopting their ideology or promoting them “through speech or writing” would also incur prison terms, the decree added.

Rights group Amnesty International sharply criticised last month’s legislation, saying it could be used to suppress peaceful political dissent because the law used an “overly vague definition of terrorism”.

“The Saudi Arabian authorities are seeking legal cover to entrench their ability to crack down on peaceful dissent and silence human rights defenders,”Amnesty’s Said Boumedouha said at the time.

Saudi Arabia set up specialised terrorism courts in 2011 to try dozens of nationals and foreigners accused of belonging to Al-Qaeda or being involved in a wave of bloody attacks that swept the country from 2003.

Mastung attack victims buried under strict security

QUETTA: The bodies of 29 victims, who were killed in a deadly suicide attack on a bus in Mastung, were laid to rest today.

Amidst strict security arrangements, the victims were buried in Bahisht-e-Zainab graveyard on Quetta’s Alamdar Road and Bahisht-e-Zahra graveyard in Hazara Town.

A large number of women had also gathered to pay their respects to the deceased.

The funeral prayers for the victims had been offered in Quetta’s Punjabi Imambargah.

The burials come in hours after the Shia Hazara community agreed to end its protest sit-in after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan assured them that strict action would be taken against elements that carried out the attack. The attack had been claimed by Lashkar-i-Jhangvi which also warned of more such attacks.

Hundreds of Hazara men, women and children had held a protest sit-in in the Quetta’s Shuhada chowk for about 48 hours in extremely cold weather with sub-zero temperatures at night on Sunday.

Sit-ins and demonstrations had also been held in Karachi, Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi.

On Jan 21, 29 people were killed and dozens injured when a powerful explosion ripped through a bus carrying Shia pilgrims in Balochistan’s militancy-hit Mastung district.