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Salute the Hazaras

SALUTE the Hazaras, one of the most gentle, peaceful and civilised communities in Pakistan. It was unfair to oblige them to supplicate for the prime minister’s attention — something they were entitled to receive without asking. The brutal and most horrible killing of 11 miners was a national catastrophe that should have brought to the scene the highest responsible authority in the land without anybody formally inviting it. What actually happened did not raise the government’s credit for its ability to respond to a national disaster and to honour its obligation to commiserate with its citizens over a terrible tragedy.

Who are the Hazaras and what have they done?

The Hazaras migrated to Balochistan over a long period in the 19th century and they were made to wait for decades before they were accepted as citizens in the land they had settled in. Their first vocation in Balochistan was to serve in the British Indian army and this enabled them to offer army chief Gen Muhammad Musa.

But as the Hazaras were neither sardars nor big landlords they didn’t have opportunities to oppress tenants at will. They chose to provide educated cadres to facilitate the management of the province’s affairs. There was a time they provided 70 per cent of the provincial government’s secretarial staff (now down to 20 or even less).
However, the Hazaras were able to rise to eminence in business and industry. They acquired ownership of mines and opened large departmental stores. They also won jobs in educational services and in banking and trade sectors.

A most striking feature of the Hazaras is their degree of tolerance for other communities.

The situation started becoming adverse for the Hazaras with the rise of religiosity in Balochistan. The previously empty marble mosques started attracting sizeable congregations. The arrival of religiously inspired militants from Punjab, the use of Balochistan as a launching pad for militants operating in Afghanistan, and finally the establishment of Taliban headquarters in Quetta made the environment unfriendly and eventually hostile to the Hazaras.

The fate of the Hazaras also began to be affected by developments in Afghanistan. When the Hazaras in Afghanistan joined the government there, the Hazaras in Pakistan were punished by the militants. Worse, the Hazaras found evidence to support their suspicion that their tormentors enjoyed the support of powerful sections in the government, even if the whole government was not a party to their suppression. These suspicions were grounded in the officials’ blatant indifference to their complaints and the persistent failure to proceed against the Hazaras’ persecutors. When action was at last taken against a couple of persons, they were allowed to escape from prison.

The Taliban campaign in Afghanistan also generated an anti-Shia wave in Balochistan and the Hazaras became victims of systematic attacks. In numerous incidents they were pulled out of public transport vehicles, subjected to identify checks and killed if their Hazara identity was established. For a long time, they were unable to put up any resistance but eventually they learned to reply to violence in the same coin, though on a small scale.

What completely disheartened the Hazaras was the fact that running normal business became more and more hazardous. They could not operate their mines and maintaining efficiency at their departmental stores became impossible. Many of them chose to abandon their fairly good jobs and went abroad in search of secure employment or business opportunities. One of their favourite destinations was Australia, and reports started to pour in of loss of life during attempts to travel from Thailand to Australia in rickety boats that often failed to reach their destination. But those who reached Australia made a good impression on their hosts. Australian authorities especially admired the industriousness of the Hazara womenfolk and their readiness to manage shops. In short, the discipline of diligence and honest dealings enabled the Hazaras to overcome the biases all communities have against immigrants of different racial stock and different habits.

The problem the Hazara workers face in an environment that has been made hostile to them by militants belonging to a different sect is that their identity is exposed by their facial features and national identity cards are checked only for ensuring that no non-Shia gets killed.

Despite all the hazards, the Hazaras have continued their educational mission. They run schools and colleges that are open to children belonging to all religious denominations and have been trying to establish a university for some years. They try to ensure that girls have as easy an access to educational facilities as boys and gender disparity in education is lower among them than in most other communities in Pakistan. Police records will confirm that although crime by Hazaras is not unknown they lag far behind other communities in making a living by crime, including common aberrations such as extortion and blackmail.

Anyone who has had contact with the Hazaras over a reasonable period will not fail to confirm that despite all the hazards they face they retain a healthy outlook on life and are full of optimism that they will survive whatever hardships are in store for them. A most striking feature of the Hazaras is their degree of tolerance for people belonging to other communities and denominations, which other communities in the country would do well to emulate.

The Hazaras’ desire to gain the attention of the highest in the land has a history of unredeemed pledges made to them. It is true, as the information minister thoughtlessly keeps reminding the Hazaras, that misfortune has not befallen them for the first time, but it is also true that remedial measures promised to the Hazaras have not materialised. The prime minister did the Hazaras no favour by flying to Quetta after dictating terms. In any responsible dispensation, the head of government would have commiserated with the disaster victims without being invited. Kindness hedged with conditions has little value. Incidentally, the episode marked the formulation of what may be accepted as an Imran Khan doctrine according to which public demands cannot be accepted because then the dacoits will come up with their demands. Wonderful.

The nation has reason to be grateful to the Hazaras for setting models of forbearance in the face of calamity.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2021

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Targeted Killings Are Terrorizing Afghans. And No One Is Claiming Them.

By Fahim Abed and Thomas Gibbons-Neff

KABUL, Afghanistan — A military prosecutor who thought upholding the law was the highest honor, a doctor who inspired her family to study medicine, a journalist who wanted to hold those in power to account and a human-rights activist who sought to combat poverty in her home province: all murdered within weeks by unknown attackers as winter settled over Afghanistan.

Their deaths offer a glimpse into the targeted killings of community leaders and off-duty security forces that have wracked Afghanistan for months — the frequent echo of explosions and gunshots serving as reminders for those in cities and towns across the country and especially in Kabul, the capital, that a generation of Afghans is being methodically cut down.

The Afghan Interior Ministry would not provide the exact number of assassinations recorded in Afghanistan last year, but The New York Times has documented the deaths of at least 136 civilians and 168 security force members in such killings, worse than nearly any other year of the war.
The attacks — directed at civil servants, members of the media, human rights workers and former and current security force members — represent a shift from targeted assaults on high-profile officials by the Taliban and other groups operating in the country toward civil society’s rank-and-file and security forces who are at home with their families, with responsibility for the deaths often unclaimed.
The killings are a worrying sign of how much remains unsettled as the United States military prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan after nearly two decades of fighting, and have added to fears that more violence and chaos will follow.

The timing makes most officials believe that the Taliban are using the assassinations as a complement to their coordinated assaults on security posts and government-controlled territory to strike fear and increase the government’s desperation at the negotiating table.

But some officials believe that at least some of the killings have a different source: political factions outside the Taliban that are beginning to use chaos as a cover as the country starts breaking down under pressure, settling scores in a troubling pattern reminiscent of Afghanistan’s disastrous civil war a generation ago.

This new chapter of intimidation and violence first opened following the Feb. 29 peace agreement between the Taliban and the United States, and it continued through the negotiations between Afghan and Taliban representatives in Qatar that paused last month. The next phase of discussions, set to reconvene on Tuesday, will focus on solidifying the agenda for the negotiations with the ultimate goal of creating a political road map for a future government.

The purpose of these current killings appears to be to terrorize Afghan society into submitting to whatever terms emerge from the talks, whether that is a peace agreement or civil war.

In the first half of the year, the targeted killings were mostly limited to religious scholars and civilians in outlying districts and provinces, according to The Times’s data. The pattern of bloodshed next emerged in cities, leaving a trail of slain judges, prosecutors, civil society activists and journalists.
Sometimes victims received threats to pressure them to stop working; other times, there was no warning before they were killed, according to family members. The Interior Ministry has advised news organizations to either arm or better protect their staffs or close their doors. Several Afghan journalists have fled the country, and local journalism associations have called on reporters to boycott government news for three days to protest the attacks, spurred by the assassination of a radio station manager in Ghor Province on New Year’s Day.
“When he told me about the threats a month before he got killed, I was worried, but he calmed me, saying, ‘I haven’t hurt anyone, why would anyone hurt me?’ ” said Nargis Noorzai Faizan, the widow of Pamir Faizan, a military prosecutor shot by gunmen in Kabul on Dec. 6. “I was a 4-year-old when my father got killed by mujahedeen insurgents. He was an officer in the army and thought that he didn’t make trouble for anyone, so he won’t be targeted. He was assassinated.”

“Now I am 30, and I lost my husband to another insurgency,” she added.

These targeted killings have been primarily carried out in two ways: gunfire and homemade bombs, typically assembled using plastic high explosives and powerful magnets, a government intelligence official recently told The Times, speaking on condition of anonymity. The magnet allows the attacker to easily and quickly attach the bomb to a car.

Abdul Qayoom, the brother of Dr. Nazifa Ibrahimi, the acting head of the health department of the prisons administration who, with four others, was killed by a bomb targeting their vehicle in Kabul on Dec. 22, had warned his sister just weeks earlier that security in their neighborhood was worsening.
“She told me, ‘Brother, I am the head doctor, and I am not dealing directly with patients, so no one will try to hurt me,’” Mr. Qayoom said. “She dedicated herself to her job. She promised to serve her people and she fulfilled that promise.”

While no group has taken credit for the bombing that killed Dr. Ibrahimi, U.S. and Afghan security officials say the Taliban have established a network of third-party criminals to carry out assassinations around the country.

Ahmad Zia Saraj, the head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, recently told Parliament that his agency had arrested 270 Taliban members who were part of a special unit called Obaida Karwan that has been linked to the killings.
For the Taliban, the aim of these attacks is likely twofold: to degrade public trust in the government and to eliminate those who might oppose the group’s interpretation of justice and virtue, especially if a version of their hard-line Islamic government — known for human rights violations during its rule in the 1990s — returns to power following any peace deal.

Still, the group continues to deny accusations of its involvement.

“Civil employees of government, civil institutions, civil organizations and civil society activists and independent people were never in our target list. Our mujahedeen are not involved in their killing,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban. “We have condemned these killings and we reject any involvement in these killings.”
Despite the Taliban’s presumed role in many of the unclaimed attacks, some Afghans are pointing fingers at government-linked factions that could also benefit from the targeted killings, along with the Islamic State affiliate operating in the country.

“Drug smugglers, land grabbers, corrupt officials and those against government reform plans are also behind these attacks,” said Dawlat Waziri, a former Afghan general and military analyst. “They want the peace talks to collapse and even support a civil war, because the more chaos and war in this country, the more they will benefit.”

For now the killings continue, with the Afghan government seemingly incapable of stopping or slowing them, despite repeated promises to hold those responsible to account.

Rahmatullah Nikzad, a freelance journalist who worked for The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, was gunned down in Ghazni Province on Dec. 21, as was Freshta Kohistani, a human-rights activist who was shot, alongside her brother, on Dec. 24 near her home in Kapisa Province. Ms. Kohistani had recently posted on Facebook that security officials were ignoring death threats that she had received.
“She was raising the problems of people,” said Rooyin Habibi, another of Ms. Kohistani’s brothers. “She was fighting for the rights of her people and she wanted a better future for Afghanistan.”

This type of violence is reminiscent of the killings and disappearances of Afghans working in Peshawar, Pakistan, in the late 1980s and early 1990s as Afghanistan cascaded into a civil war across the border. Women, intellectuals and political and religious figures, many of whom who were opposed to the policies of the Islamist insurgent groups that rose to power following the defeat of the Soviets in 1989, were detained or killed. And the abductions and killings of the thousands who spoke out against Afghanistan’s communist regime in the years before were well documented.
Today, what Shaharzad Akbar, the chairwoman of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, fears — aside from being killed — is that these deaths will become white noise for the international community, more so than they already have. Afghan lives, she said, do not seem to be valued by much of the world.

“We die, there is a tweet, and people move on,” Ms. Akbar said. “The only tangible thing that has happened to Afghans under the peace process is that they used to know who their killers are, and now they don’t.”

Fahim Abed reported from Kabul, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Geneva. Fatima Faizi and Najim Rahim contributed reporting from Kabul.

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بولان و مچھ میں ہولناک فوجی آپریشن جاری،درجنوں لوگ فوج کے ہاتھوں لاپتہ،گھرنذرآتش کیے گئے ہیں – بی این ایم

بلوچ نیشنل موومنٹ کے مرکزی ترجمان نے کہا ہے کہ بولان کے مختلف علاقوں میں کئی روز سے پاکستانی فوج کا زمینی و فضائی آپریشن جاری ہے اورگن شپ ہیلی کاپٹرمسلسل شیلنگ کر رہے ہیں۔ اس آپریشن کو مزید وسعت دی جارہی ہے۔ بولان اور مچھ کے اکثر علاقے پاکستانی فوج کی شدیدمحاصرے میں ہیں اور آمدورفت کے تمام راستے بند ہیں۔ اب تک درجنوں لوگوں کو پاکستانی فوج نے اٹھا کر لاپتہ کیاہے۔

ترجمان نے کہا کہ پاکستانی بربریت نے وسیع علاقے کو اپنی لپیٹ میں لیاہے، جہاں درندہ فوج کی آتش وآہن کی بارش مسلسل جا ری ہے۔ بولان کے مختلف علاقوں چیسن، پوڑ، میاں کور، شاہرگ اور گرد و نواح سمیت آج مچھ اور بزگر، جمبرو، تلانگ، کمان، جھالاوان، لونی، میژداری میں آپریشن کو وسعت دی گئی ہے۔ اس وقت بدترین آپریشن جاری ہے۔ ان علاقوں سے درجنوں افراد کو پاکستانی فوج نے اٹھا کرنامعلوم مقام پر منتقل کردیا ہے۔ صرف شاہرگ سے 15افراد جن میں بابو شیر محمد ولد تاج محمد، عطا اللہ ولد شیر محمد، ملک منظور احمد ولد حاجی منیر احمد، طیب احمد ولد ملک منظور احمد، سعید احمد ولد نزید احمد، حفیظ الرحمٰن ولد عبدالرحمٰن، عزیز الرحمٰن، عبدالرازق ولد شیر زمان، نور محمد، صابر خان ولد غازی خان، علی محمد ولد ظفر خان، خالق داد ولد خیرا، منڈا ولد محمد امین، شیر احمد ولد کجیر خان، بابو دودا ولد بابو زر خان شامل ہیں، کی شناخت ہو چکی ہے۔ اس کے علاوہ ان علاقوں میں پاکستان نے درجنوں گھروں کو نذر آتش کردیا ہے۔

انہوں نے کہا کہ ایک جانب پاکستان بلین ٹری نامی پروجیکٹ کے تحت کروڑوں کی تعدادمیں درخت لگارہی ہے لیکن مقبوضہ بلوچستان میں پاکستانی فوج بلوچ قوم کے خلاف بدترین مظالم کے ساتھ ساتھ بلوچ دھرتی پر موجود ہر شئے جو بلوچ سے وابستہ ہے، اسے بربریت کا نشانہ بنا رہا ہے۔ مشکئے اور مکران کے بعد سراوان میں بھی پاکستان فوج نے غربوگ سجاول کے وسیع جنگلات کو نذر آتش کردیا ہے۔ یہ سلسلہ جاری ہے۔ قابض فوج پیش قدمی کرتے ہوئے دیگر علاقوں میں بھی جنگلات کو نذرآتش کررہا ہے۔ اس سے جنگلات اور جنگلی حیات کو شدید نقصان پہنچا ہے۔یہ جنگلات کونذرآتش کرنے سے نہ براہ راست بلوچ کازندگی براہ راست متاثرہورہاہے بلکہ یہاں کا”ایکوسسٹم“اورماحول بھی تباہ ہورہاہے۔جس طرح بلوچستان میں انسانی حقوق کی پامالی پرانسانی حقوق کے تنظیم خاموش ہیں اسی طرح ماحولیات کی تحفظ اور global warmingکے خلاف کام کرنے والے ممالک اور تنظیموں کوبلوچستان میں یہ ظلم نظراندازکررہے ہیں اس پرافسوس ہی کیاجاتاہے۔

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Massive military operation underway in various areas of Bolan

Pakistani military, aided with gunship helicopters, has launched a massive military operation in various areas of Bolan.

The operation commenced after Pakistani forces were targeted twice within a span of 24 hours in Jhalawan Thankk area of Bolan. After attacking and capturing outposts on Saturday, unknown assailants targeted personnel carriers’ convoy of Pakistani military with an IED in the area on Sunday. The Pakistani military is now using aerial support to comb the area.

According to locals, the gunship helicopters have been spotted in mountainous areas of Jhambaro, Thalaang and Kamaan, whereas, fresh troops have been seen arriving at Harnai military camps.

Pakistani forces have also been firing numerous mortar rounds in Jhalawan, Panki, Loni, Mezhdari and surroundings before advancing in the area. However, so far TBP has received no reports of causalities.

Earlier on Saturday, outposts of Pakistani forces came under an intense multipronged attack that lasted for several hours, resulting in the assailants capturing the outposts. BLA claimed responsibility for the attack and said they have killed 11 Pakistani military personnel and injured several others. The spokesperson of Pakistani military on the other hand confirmed the attack and said 7 personnel and 2 guards were killed in the attack.

Yesterday, the backup troops of Pakistani military were targeted with an IED causing further causalities. BLA again claimed it was behind the attack and said two Pakistani military personnel were killed and several including a captain were injured. Pakistani military also confirmed the second attack but maintained that 7 personnel including a captain were injured but no one was killed.

The brazen attacks only less than 100 kms from provincial capital Quetta have caused a stir and several Pakistani government officials including Pakistani PM Imran Khan, interior minister Sheikh Rasheed and others have condemned the attacks.

Former provincial interior minister, Sarfaraz Bugti, had yesterday demanded that air force be used in the region to “hunt down these terrorists and their facilitators” in the area.

BLA in a media statement had said on Saturday: “the uncivilised occupying forces have been completely defeated by Baloch freedom fighters on all fronts. Therefore, they have resorted to violence on innocent civilians, particularly women and children, and non-combatant political workers. Now their cunning acts are not limited to Balochistan and they have begun targeting Baloch refugees and journalists in foreign countries too.”

It had also warned that the group has “full capability of starting a similar war in Punjab that the enemy is trying to impose on Baloch nation in Balochistan and other countries.”

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Bolan: Two massive attacks on Pakistani forces in 24 hours

The Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistani army, confirmed in a statement that the Frontier Corps had been attacked in Harnai district of Balochistan on Saturday. Seven soldiers were killed in the attack. Baloch Liberation Army, the fiercest pro-independence group in Balochistan, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

“During [an] intense exchange of fire, seven brave soldiers embraced shahadat while repulsing raiding terrorists”, the ISPR said in the statement.

It said that the area has been cordoned off and all the escape routes have been blocked in an attempt to corner the attackers. A large-scale search/clearance operation is also in progress in the area.

“Such cowardly acts by inimical elements backed by anti state forces will not be allowed to sabotage hard earned peace and prosperity in Balochistan. Security forces are determined to thwart their nefarious designs at all costs”, the statement said.

In a tweet, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan said that he was “saddened to hear of” the death of the seven soldiers in Harnai. He offered his condolences to the family members of the slain soldiers.

“My heartfelt condolences & prayers go to their families. Our nation stands with our courageous soldiers who face attacks from Indian backed terrorists”, the tweet read.

The Baloch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack. In a media statement, Jeeyand Baloch, spokesperson for the group, said that the BLA had attacked and subsequently captured the forces’ outposts in Harnai. The attackers also confiscated large supplies of weapons and ammunition from the outposts, he said.

The statement, however, conflicted the death toll of the attack which the ISPR claimed was seven. BLA said that it had killed 11 personnel of the forces, and several of them had fled the scene, leaving their weapons and fallen companions behind.

Related: BLA threatens to take the war to Punjab, says it has capabilities

According to the sources, the Pakistani military was targeted once again in the very same area on Sunday. After the attack on the outpost by BLA, a large convoy of the forces were advancing into the region. One of the vehicles reportedly ran over a mine, triggering a blast that heavily damaged the vehicle and wounded and killed several of its occupants.

According to the official figures, six soldiers were wounded in the attack. The local sources say that the forces also sustained fatalities, but the officials have neither confirmed nor denied these claims.

The number of armed confrontations between the Pakistani forces and the Baloch insurgents has spiked in the past couple of weeks.

Earlier in October, 14 security men – seven personnel of the Frontier Corps and seven guards employed by OGDCL – were killed in an attack on the Ormara Coastal Highway. Baloch Raj Aajohi Sangar claimed responsibility for the attack.

On December 20, the ISPR confirmed in a statement that a sepoy had been killed in the cross-fire between the insurgents and the security forces in Awaran.

Four days ago, the ISPR said in a statement that 10 insurgents had been killed in a military operation on their hideout in Awaran.

Related: ISPR confirms Awaran attack on Pakistani forces, BRAS claims responsibility

“These terrorists were involved in firing on security forces, which resulted in martyrdom of Lance Naik Mohammad Iqbal on Dec 20 in the Awaran area,” the statement read.

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Karima Baloch found dead in Canada

Renowned activist and former chairperson of Baloch Students Organisation – Azad has been found dead in Toronto, Canada.

Karima Baloch, a Canadian refugee named by the BBC as one of the world’s 100 most “inspirational and influential” women in 2016 was last seen on Sunday, December 20, 2020, at approximately 3 p.m.

The Toronto police had said that Karima was last seen in the Bay Street and Queens Quay West area in Toronto.

The Police had requested public’s assistance in locating Karima Baloch. However, now her family has confirmed that Karima Baloch’s body has been found and has requested privacy.

Karima Baloch, a famous personality in Balochistan, is believed to be the pioneer of women activism in Balochistan. She has also raised the issue of Balochistan in United Nations sessions in Switzerland.

Her sudden and unexplained disappearance and death has raised serious concerns.

Earlier in March, another Baloch refugee and journalist Sajid Hussain went missing from Sweden. His body was later found from a river. His family, friends and acquaintances claim that he was murdered. Reporters without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based journalists’ organisation, alleged that Mr Hussain’s mysterious disappearance and subsequent death could have been organized by the Pakistani intelligence agencies – ISI and MI – due to his work as a journalist.

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Karima Baloch, Pakistani human rights activist, found dead in Canada

A dissident Pakistani human rights activist living in exile in Canada has been found dead in Toronto after going missing.

Karima Baloch, 37, was granted asylum in Canada in 2016 after her work as a human rights activist in the troubled Pakistan state of Balochistan had led to her being followed and threatened by the authorities.

The first chair of the Baloch Students Organization (BSO-Azad), a political student organisation, she had been advocating for the rights of those in a region home to a long-running insurgency movement, and raising the ongoing issue of enforced disappearances.

She was listed by the BBC in its 100 most inspirational and influential women of 2016 for her work in human rights.

Kidnap, torture, murder: the plight of Pakistan’s thousands of disappeared
Read more
Baloch is the second Pakistani dissident from Balochistan living in exile to be found dead this year. In May, Sajid Hussain, a journalist who wrote about human rights violations in Balochistan, was found dead in a river in Sweden, where he had sought asylum after threats to his life in Pakistan.
Baloch’s husband, Hammal Haider, also a Pakistani activist living in exile, said she had left home at midday on Sunday for a walk on Toronto’s Centre Island as she often did, but never returned. Toronto police later put out an appeal for information on Twitter and her body was found on Monday on the island.

“I can’t believe that it’s an act of suicide. She was a strong lady and she left home in a good mood,” Haider said. “We can’t rule out foul play as she has been under threats. She left Pakistan as her home was raided more than twice. Her uncle was killed. She was threatened to leave activism and political activities but she did not and fled to Canada.”

Haider said a month ago he had received multiple threatening messages over social media after raising the issue of human rights abuses and military operations in Balochistan.

He said: “I was told that my brothers and wife can be targeted. I didn’t take them seriously. We often get such trolls and threats while talking about human rights abuses.

“I can’t blame anyone right now. We are just waiting to hear from police on its investigation.”

Lateef Johar, a Baloch activist and close friend in exile in Canada, told the Guardian the police had said Baloch’s body had been found near a body of water. “The police have not provided any further details. They have not told us the cause of death nor have they returned the body of Karima.”
Johar said he had met Baloch on Thursday at the University of Toronto, where they were both students. They talked on the phone on Friday. “I don’t think this is an accident or an act of suicide,” Johar said. “We all feel threatened here. Even after the killing of Sajid Hussain I fear when I find myself in a dark street.”

Amnesty International said: “The death of activist Karima Baloch in Toronto, Canada is deeply shocking and must be immediately and effectively investigated. The perpetrators must be brought to justice without recourse to the death penalty.”

Since moving to Canada, Baloch had continued to be vocal about human rights abuses in her home province and across Pakistan. She regularly spoke at conferences, addressed the media and attended protest rallies in Canada.

“She had received threats from unknown Pakistani numbers on WhatsApp after a few Baloch students were abducted in late 2017,” said Johar. “Those threats also mentioned me. She was asked to come back to Pakistan and told that if she comes back, the cases against her would be quashed and those abducted students would be freed.”

The Swedish authorities ruled out foul play in the death of Hussain but an autopsy did not confirm an exact cause of death. A friend of the family who has seen the autopsy report and police investigation told the Guardian: “The family was not convinced by the investigation and they have requested for more evidence from the Swedish authorities. Their request has yet to be entertained.”

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Slain Taliban chief had life insurance policy, court told

KARACHI: Before his death in a US drone attack in 2016, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour had purchased a ‘life insurance’ policy from a private company in Pakistan using a fake identity, it emerged at the hearing of a terror funding case against him and his absconding accomplices on Saturday.

The insurance company confirmed it to an anti-terrorism court in Karachi at the hearing of the case registered against him and his accomplices by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) last year.

It emerged during the investigation that the Taliban leader and his accomplices were involved in generating funds for terrorist activities through the purchase of properties on the basis of ‘forged identities’. He had purchased five properties including plots and houses, estimated to be valued at Rs32 million, in Karachi.

Sources in the FIA told Dawn that when the matter was taken up before the court, the investigating officer appeared along with an official of the Pakistani insurance company and filed a report on its behalf. The report explained that it emerged during investigation that Mullah Akhtar Mansour had purchased a ‘life insurance’ policy by using a fake identity and had paid up to Rs300,000 to the company before his death in the drone attack on May 21, 2016.
While showing willingness to return the principal amount that he had paid, the insurance company had presented a cheque worth Rs300,000 to the investigators for depositing it to the court so that the amount could be deposited in the government treasury, the sources said. “However, the FIA investigators returned the cheque asking the company to pay the principal amount along with premium so that the whole amount could be deposited to the government treasury,” the sources added.

On Saturday, the insurance company deposited a cheque worth Rs350,000 with the court, which had on Sept 24 ordered the company to deposit the amount paid by the slain Taliban leader for his life insurance policy before he was killed, the judicial sources confirmed to Dawn.

Also on a court directive, a property owned by Mullah Mansour in Karachi had been auctioned for Rs9,200,000 and the amount had been deposited with the court Nazir for depositing it in the government treasury, they said.

Properties in Peshawar, Quetta
The sources said that non-bailable warrants were again issued for the arrest of Quetta and Peshawar Mukhtiarkars (land revenue officers) for not appearing before the court to submit their respective reports as to whether the Taliban leader and his accomplices also owned properties in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as required under Section 88 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Previously, the court had ordered the authorities concerned in Peshawar and Quetta to stop salaries of the two officers for not submitting their reports despite the court directives.

The judge also sought reports from two private banks, Allied Bank Ltd and Bank Al-Falah, regarding the accounts purportedly obtained and operated by the Afghan Taliban leader and/or his accomplices along with details of the money deposited/transacted through them.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2020

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