Pakistan

Gilgit-Baltistan: Financing of Wahabi & Salafi Militants Across the Globe

Posted on Updated on

Gilgit (Dawn): It is not merely the faith or oil that flows out of Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich Arab state and its neighbors are busy financing Wahabi and Salafi militants across the globe.
A recent report by the European Parliament reveals how Wahabi and Salafi groups based out of the Middle East are involved in the “support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world.” The report, released in June 2013, was commissioned by European Parliament’s Directorate General for External Policies. The report warns about the Wahabi/Salafi organisations and claims that “no country in the Muslim world is safe from their operations … as they always aim to terrorise their opponents and arouse the admiration of their supporters.”

The nexus between Arab charities promoting Wahabi and Salafi traditions and the extremist Islamic movements has emerged as one of the major threats to people and governments across the globe. From Syria, Mali, Afghanistan and Pakistan to Indonesia in the East, a network of charities is funding militancy and mayhem to coerce Muslims of diverse traditions to conform to the Salafi and Wahabi traditions. The same networks have been equally destructive as they branch out of Muslim countries and attack targets in Europe and North America.

Despite the overt threats emerging from the oil-rich Arab states, governments across the globe continue to ignore the security imperative and instead are busy exploiting the oil-, and at time times, blood-soaked riches.

The European Parliament’s report though is a rare exception to the rule where in the past the western governments have let the oil executives influence their foreign offices. From the United States to Great Britain, western states have gone to great lengths to ignore the Arab charities financing the radical groups, some of whom have even targeted the West with deadly consequences.

While the recent report by the European Parliament documents the financial details connecting the Arab charities with extremists elsewhere, it is certainly not the first exposition of its kind. A 2006 report by the US Department of State titled, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report – Money Laundering and Financial Crimes, reported that “Saudi donors and unregulated charities have been a major source of financing to extremist and terrorist groups over the past 25 years.” One of the WikiLeaks documents, a cable from the US Consulate in Lahore also stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”

Advertisements

Gilgit-Baltistan: Focus on Curing Terminal Diseases of Pakistan

Posted on Updated on

By:Humayun Gauhar

Forget the chase. Cut to the crap. Unable to deliver, Nawaz Sharif has diverted the national conversation from Pakistan’s terminal problems to trying Gen. Pervez Musharraf for alleged ‘high treason’ under Article 6 of the constitution. In so doing, has Nawaz Sharif unwittingly put himself in the line of fire yet again? Bad habits die hard.

But hang on. Could it be that the army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (and the army by extension) is the prime target because Musharraf is to be tried only for the November 3, 2007 emergency: the Proclamation of Emergency includes him and others whom Musharraf “consulted”. Could it be that Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is the second target if legitimizing the October 12, 1999 countercoup comes into the fray, which it will have to? So as ‘aiders and abettors’, Kayani better keep his gun holstered and the chief justice behave. How simplistically obvious can you get?

The country’s attention has been diverted, but for how long? As our terminal problems get ‘worser and worser’ people will stop thinking of alleged treason and focus entirely on survival. When survival becomes impossible they will start saying it with sticks and stones.

By invoking Article 6, Nawaz Sharif has unsheathed a sword over the army chief’s head and shown a sheathed sword to the chief justice that can be unsheathed any time to keep them both ‘in line’. Does Sharif realize that there are sharper swords dangling over his head, like the Asghar Khan case? The Supreme Court (SC) can disqualify him as it disqualified another prime minister before him unless Sharif becomes president in September to gain temporary constitutional immunity and appoints an obedient prime minister in his stead – the Asif Zardari formula.

The procedure is not so simple. First, the federal government has to ask the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to investigate only the November 3, 2007 emergency. The FIA’s findings will then be considered to decide whether they have a case or not. If they think they do, a special court will try Musharraf and inevitably others.

Certain points and questions need clarification:

Can a treason case under Article 6 be filed by citizens when only the federal government can do so? Can the Supreme Court even consider it? In hearing such a case and suggesting to the federal government to file a treason case, did the Supreme Court perhaps transgress its jurisdiction?

Which Article 6 would they try Musharraf under, the one that obtained on October 12, 1999 and November 3, 2007 that did not contain the word ‘abeyance’ or the version amended later to contain the word ‘abeyance’? Can one be tried retroactively under a new law made after the fact? Doesn’t this make the amendment Musharraf-specific and smack of malfeasance?

Can justice be selective? Can they pluck only one person out of a group of alleged conspirators when the constitution includes all aiders and abettors?

How can they try Musharraf for the November 3, 2007 emergency only without first trying him for the October 12, 1999 countercoup for if the SC hadn’t legitimized it the emergency of 2007 would not have happened?

When the October 1999 countercoup comes into the fray, the first question to be asked of Nawaz Sharif would be: “Why did you create such a situation by your acts of October 12, 1999 that left the army no option but to intervene, acts that the SC held were illegal, including possible attempted treason by asking the pilot to take Musharraf’s commercial airliner to India and deliver Pakistan’s army chief into Indian hands?” Cause cannot be divorced from effect for then the effect cannot be understood and an unbiased judgment passed.

Did the November 3, 2007 emergency amount to treason for it was not against the federation but only affected the job of one particular judge and others that joined him? Musharraf gave the reasons in his speech after imposing emergency. Those reasons will be revisited. The then Chairman JCSC, Army, Air and Navy chiefs, corps commanders, provincial governors, prime minister, all will enter the dock.

The argument that parliament upheld the SC’s judgment legitimizing the 1999 countercoup is so much poppycock. The current SC can overturn that judgment as well as any Act of parliament as ultra vires of the constitution and its spirit as it has done before.

The SC first legitimized Gen. Yahya Khan’s coup of 1969 but overturned its own judgment in 1972 in a case filed by my mother and Asma Jilani against the detention of my father and Asma’s father by Bhutto. Many of the same shameless judges who had earlier called Yahya Khan a saviour now called him a usurper. The ‘Asma Jilani, Zarina Gauhar Case’ became a milestone in our judicial history. Bhutto had to lift martial law and introduce an interim constitution in April 1972. But as we have seen, judgments and constitutions do not stop military interventions when the country is being fed to the dogs by civilian wannabe dictators.

Similarly, this SC can overturn its judgment legitimizing the October 1999 countercoup. But what will come of the chief justice who took and gave oaths under Musharraf’s first Provisional Constitution Order of October 15, 1999?

If the Supreme Court could overturn the judgment of the Dogar Court legalizing the 2007 emergency why not its judgment legitimizing the 1999 countercoup? Was sanctifying one judgment and overturning another self-serving: to save jobs in the first instance and retrieving them in the second?

What about Nawaz Sharif’s goons storming the Supreme Court to remove an earlier chief justice? Did they not violate the constitution too, more in fact than Musharraf’s emergency? Nawaz Sharif succeeded in dethroning his chief justice; Musharraf didn’t. The judgment absolving Sharif and his storm troopers of that crime needs to be revisited too. Let justice prevail equitably. Isn’t that what the Quran and the constitution say?

Gen. Kayani and others cannot take the plea that they were following orders, for Gen. Aslam Beg tried this in the Asghar Khan case and failed. Each soldier is responsible for his actions and is entitled not to follow a command he thinks is unlawful.

The reference against the chief justice was prepared by the law ministry and signed by the prime minister. Apart from other evidence, also behind it were the complaints of some lawyers and a High Court chief justice. So in sending it to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) President Musharraf was in accord with the constitution. Had the Supreme Court not thrown it out unheard and the SJC been allowed to consider it and give its opinion and necessary legal action if deemed fit taken, the need for the November 3, 2007 emergency would not have arisen. Was throwing out the reference by the Supreme Court not a violation of the constitution? Or were the charges and evidence too strong? We don’t know. It needs hearing.

Now consider Article 5. It says: “(1) Loyalty to the State is the basic duty of every citizen. (2) Obedience of the Constitution and law is the [inviolable] obligation of every citizen wherever he may be and of every person for the time being within Pakistan.” Note the use of the word ‘duty’ for the State and ‘obligation’ for the constitution – ‘inviolable’ is facetious. Is there any such thing as a constitutionally violable obligation? It is editor’s brackets because it was inserted later to replace the word ‘basic’ that makes sense. Which is higher, the State or the constitution? Which is the greater imperative, duty or obligation? A man is obliged under a social contract of marriage to look after his wife’s needs, but he has a Divine duty to raise his children well. Will he remain married if he thinks that his wife is harmful to their children? Not vice versa because in Islam the upbringing of children is only the father’s duty.

If a citizen thinks that the State is in danger, will he let it be harmed just to be obedient to the constitution? The State comes first. The constitution is supposed to protect the State. If it fails to protect it and only produces poor and corrupt governments that harm the State and its people, it becomes amendable or dispensable for a better one. Will you save your limb and let your body die of cancer or will you sever your limb to save your body? A limb is a useful tool, the body houses life and soul. If the body dies you die. If a limb dies you live.

Talking of usurpers, a usurper is a person who seizes something without right, not necessarily by force but also by conning and hoodwinking. Someone who steals an election by engineering it or rigging the ballot and seizes power is a usurper too as are those who aided and abetted him. Does this not attract Article 6?

Let us not get into that for now else the tamasha will never end. Let us focus entirely on our duty of saving the State by curing its terminal diseases and our obligation of providing for our people.

The writer is a political analyst. He can be contacted at humayun.gauhar786@gmail.com

Gilgit-Baltistan: Lack of Facilities and Infrastructure Keeps Tourist Away in Pakistan

Posted on

By Tahmina Qureshi

To say that the tourism industry in Pakistan is still untapped would be absolutely incorrect. It has been tapped, but only to the extent of governmental interest.

When the country was rocked by terrorism after 9/11, the government suddenly remembered the forgotten tourism industry and tried to use it to project a ‘soft image’ of the country. But like everything else done in this country, the government’s efforts at boosting tourism have been sporadic and projects have been marred by characteristic mismanagement. The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) is in financial crisis and the government keeps announcing mega tourism projects without any thought towards developing basic infrastructure and peace — factors imperative for leisurely travel.

However, of late tourist events such as jeep rallies in Malam Jabba and Cholistan have been organised. Surprisingly enough, despite the volatile law and order situation the number of domestic tourists has increased by around 20pc according to PTDC officials who also boast of generating $306 million during 2010 from over 900,000 foreign tourists of which 200,000 were from the South Asia region.

Yet there does not seem to be a cohesive strategy behind seriously developing tourism as an industry and exploring new avenues. Moreover, devolving the tourism ministry is of no help in this regard at all.

Places where infrastructure is in better shape tend to attract the most tourists; in our country that happens to be the Kaghan and Swat valleys. The PTDC has around 37 motels all across Pakistan and more than 25 of them are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan. The rest are distributed among Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan and don’t see much traffic, if at all. Most of the lodging facilities in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are managed by private hotels which compete with each other for customers and rates.

Sharing his experience, a psychology student Attaullah Khan says, “Northern Areas which are the main focus of domestic and foreign tourism do not have good transportation. The vehicles are old and a lot of times overloaded which is extremely dangerous on narrow and slippery roads.”

He felt that the tourism department didn’t do enough to manage hotels on the whole and said that hotel fares should be regulated.

Even a five-star hotel in a city like Multan was below par in its facilities, according to a telecommunication professional Mudassir Hussain. “I travelled to Multan in 2011; though I stayed at a five-star hotel the facilities, including room service and accessories, were no better than a three-star hotel,” he says.

Saad Raza, a business executive, had a similar experience when he travelled to Naran and Kaghan valleys. He felt that the prices were too high compared to the facilities provided by the hotels. “Given the service, the prices were not justified at all,” he says. “I have stayed in Turkey and China in better places but at similar prices. In those countries, there are either four or five-star hotels or no-star hotels — not in between.”

Private tour contractors have stepped in to fill the gap and that may partly be the reason for the increasing number of domestic tourists. Logistics and facilities may also depend on how much money one is willing to spend but in areas with only a couple of staying options, money might not be the answer.

Andleeb Gufran, a faculty member at NED university, is a fan of Shangrila and Shigar resorts in Skardu but feels that a lot more could be done. “Some hotels are good some are bad,” she says. “Except for the PC chain, there are no five-star hotels up north.”

Another area where tourism in Pakistan lacks is adventure sports for which the potential remains untapped to a great extent, even in areas other than Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Abdullah Wasim, a sports journalist who loves adventure sports, laments that “Except for Malam Jabba there isn’t any other ski resort when there could be so many. There are also not many camping facilities, except for a couple of private tour contractors.” He further adds,

“Tourism-wise Gilgit-Baltistan is the most attractive part of the country. Though there are not many facilities, the hospitality of the people is amazing.”

However, Waleed Rashid, a student at a private university, seems to be more or less satisfied with the infrastructure and value for money, especially during off season — winter or late autumn. “I noticed a great deal of improvement in the overall infrastructure. Landslides that occurred after rain were cleared up in only three to four hours,” he says. “The roads are better too. Obviously one can’t expect four-lane highways that high up in the mountains.”

As usual Balochistan and the Sindh seem to be the most neglected provinces. The PTDC does operate a couple of motels in Balochistan and one in Moenjodaro in Sindh but has to arrange special tours for remote areas. But the resorts managed by Sindh government at Keenjhar and Haleji lakes are as good as closed.

Perhaps a lesson or two could be learnt from Sri Lanka which remained a popular tourist destination in South Asia even when the country was in turmoil  or from India whose clever marketing of its qualities while covering its flaws invoke the interest of any wayward explorer. But what both have is a cohesive plan, a strategy in which all stakeholders carry their equal share which cannot be seen so far in Pakistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Top GB Officials Suspended after Nanga Parbat Incident

Posted on

ISLAMABAD (INP): Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Inspector General Police and Chief Secretary Gilgit-Baltistan have been suspended after Nanga Parbat incident, in which gunmen killed 10 people including nine foreign tourists.

Speaking in the National Assembly, he strongly criticized the apathy on part of security institutions in thwarting such acts of terrorism. He, however, said that there was no question of point scoring.

He said that the Chief Secretary and IG Gilgit-Baltistan have been suspended and an inquiry would be carried out against them. He told the house that gunmen entered the base camp in security forces’ uniform and gunned down three Chinese, five Ukrainian and a Russian tourist by forcing them out of their huts.

Nisar said that a Chinese tourist was recovered from the base camp. “I talked to Chinese ambassador who asked whether Chinese tourists were militants’ target. I told him Pakistan was the target of the attack,” Nisar said. He said that the attack was aimed at giving the message to the world that Pakistan was an insecure country.

He said in view of the militants strategy to launch attacks at sensitive places by using security forces uniform, it has been decided that no army personnel would enter the Red Zone in Islamabad without being searched. He said that nobody would be able to stop only six terrorists if they enter the parliament in uniform.

He said the incident took place at the base camp of Nanga Parbat which is away from Ferry Meadows. He said as per the initial reports, the terrorists’ were disguised in Gilgit Scouts’ uniforms. He said the terrorists hired the services of two local guides, one of them has been martyred and other is in the custody and being interrogated.

The Interior Minister said it were the military security agencies who responded to this incident quickly and now they are also cooperating the civil security agencies.

The Interior Minister proposed the House to convene a separate National Assembly session on security matters and discuss the pros and cons in detail, so as to formulate a comprehensive security policy to confront the challenges.

Leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah condemned the killing of twelve persons in Gilgit-Baltistan and said terrorists want to single out Pakistan. He said opposition will never exploit such incidents and we all will collectively overcome the menace of terrorism.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi also condemned the attack and said that we cannot imagine that such places like Ziarat and GB will be targeted. He said that we need to change our political mindset to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.

The PTI leader said this incident can affect our relations with China and Russia. He said the transition phase in Afghanistan in terms of NATO withdrawal and Presidential elections has started affecting Pakistan. He said in this realm Pakistan needs to focus on the national security policy and change its paradigm. He assured his party’s full support to government in this regard.

Mahmood Khan Achakzai proposed the House to write letters expressing sympathies with bereaved families of foreigners.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Attack on Tourists is Attack on Pakistan

Posted on

ISLAMABAD (ET): Calling the attack on foreign tourists in Gilgit-Baltistan an attack on Pakistan, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the visitors should be monitored from the moment they land in Pakistan.

Nisar was speaking during a National Assembly session on Sunday.

Late Saturday night, five Ukrainians, three Chinese, a Russian and their guide were killed in an attack in a remote resort area near the base camp for the snow-covered Nanga Parbat mountain.

Condemning the incident, the interior minister said that all the institutions in the country are weak and have failed to prevent such attacks.

He further criticised the lack of accountability against irresponsible officials, whose failures lead to security lapses.

Nisar vowed to work beyond his responsibility to ensure security across the country.

He informed the parliamentarians that his ministry is working on a national security policy which will soon be presented in the National Assembly.

The interior minister said that the recommendations made by all the political parties will be accommodated to make it a comprehensive national policy.

The National Assembly also passed a resolution today, condemning the killing of the foreign tourists.

Gilgit-Baltistan: NA Passed Resolution Condemning Tourists Killing

Posted on

Islamabad (Nation): National Assembly (NA), Sunday, unanimously passed a resolution condemning killing of Tourists in Gilgit-Blatistan.

This House strongly condemns the ghastly and shocking terror attack near the Base Camp of Nanga Parbat in Gilgit-Baltistan, in which tourists/climbers from China, Ukraine and Pakistan were attacked and killed by terrorists.
This is clearly a deliberate attempt to undermine Pakistan’s image internationally, so as to portray it as an unsafe place for foreign tourists.
This House expresses its deepest sympathies with the families of the victims. It appreciates the action taken by the Minister of Interior in issuing necessary instructions to the law-enforcing and security forces and conveying condolences to the Ambassadors of the countries concerned.
This Houses calls upon the Government to:-
(a) immediately takes all necessary measures against these anti-state elements;
(b) re-arrest the professional capacity of the security and intelligence set ups and ensure greater coordination amongst them.
The resolution was moved by Mekhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi, Sheikh Aftab Ahmed (Minister for State for Parliamentary Affairs), Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Sahibzada Tariq Ullah, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Mr. Adbul Rashid Godil.

Gilgit-Baltistan: Nine Tourists Killed in Fairy Meadows, Diamer

Posted on

Karachi (Seattle Times): Gilgit-Baltistan, a region of snow-peaked mountains and glacial valleys at the juncture of the Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges, where nine tourists and their guide were killed is listed as one of 50 places worldwide “to see before you die.”

Nine tourists preparing to climb a Himalayan peak in an idyllic region of Pakistan bordering China were killed at their hotel overnight in the country’s worst attack on foreigners in five years.

The tourists — five Ukrainians, three Chinese and a Russian — and their local guide were shot by extremists at the base camp of Nanga Parbat, a 26,600-foot-high mountain at the western end of the Himalayan mountains. The attackers were dressed in uniforms of the Gilgit Scouts, the paramilitary security force of Gilgit-Baltistan, a Pakistan-administered area of the Kashmir region disputed by Pakistan, India and China, whose borders meet there.

Gilgit-Baltistan is a region of snow-peaked mountains and glacial valleys located at the juncture of the Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges. It was the setting for Shangri-La in the book, “Lost Horizon,” by James Hilton.

Gilgit-Baltistan has been ruled by China, Tibet, Britain and the ruler of Kashmir, who chose to join India upon its independence in 1947. The Gilgit Scouts rebelled and the region’s hereditary leaders joined Pakistan, newly formed from India’s Muslim-majority northwest provinces.

The opening in 1978 of the Karakoram Highway, an 800-mile highway known as the world’s highest, connected Islamabad through Gilgit-Baltistan to the western Chinese city of Kashgar. It made the previously cut-off region accessible by road, and it became a favorite fixture for adventurists and hippy-trailers, who flocked to the valley of Hunza, the setting for Shangri-La.

It is annually listed by National Geographic magazine as one of 50 places worldwide “to see before you die.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to visit China on Monday, and while there plans to seal an agreement for the construction of a high-speed railway line through Gilgit-Baltistan to a Chinese port on Pakistan’s Indian Ocean coast, near the mouth of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The envisioned railway line would be a feat of engineering that would exceed China’s construction of a rail into Tibet, which has similar terrain.

Tourists were the major source of income for the region’s scattered population of 1.4 million until the September 11, 2001, al-Qaida attacks on the United States, and tourists had started to return only this year.

The overnight attack was the first ever on tourists in the region, known as a haven from the terrorist violence that plagues the Pakistani hinterland, although it does suffer from frequent, if small, outbursts of violence between Shia and Sunni Muslims living there. Unlike the rest of Pakistan, where Sunnis are the vast majority, the population of Gilgit-Baltistan is split equally between Shias, Ismaili followers of the Aga Khan, and Sunnis.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the self-described Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in retribution for a suspected U.S. drone strike last month that killed Wali ur-Rehman, the second in command of the terrorist group.