Dr Usman, Arshad Mehmood executed in Faisalabad
FAISALABAD: Aqeel alias Dr Usman and Arshad Mehmood have been executed in Faisalabad on Friday night, in the first capital punishment carried out in the country since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the moratorium on the death penalty.
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, was executed for an assassination attempt on former military ruler, General (retd.) Pervez Musharraf.
The black warrant for Dr Usman was signed by Army Chief General Raheel Sharif late on Thursday night.
The prime minister had lifted the moratorium a day after terrorists attacked Peshawar's Army Public School, killing 141 people, most of them children.
Eleven soldiers had lost their lives in the Oct 10, 2009 attack when 10 heavily armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed the army's General Headquarter (GHQ) holding off commandos for hours.
Dr Usman, who was caught injured during the Oct 10 raid on the army headquarters by militants, was sentenced to death in 2011 by a military court which had awarded prison terms to others in the GHQ attack case.
A retired soldier, Imran Siddiq, was awarded life imprisonment in the case at the time whereas three civilians - Khaliqur Rehman, Mohammad Usman and Wajid Mehmood - were given life terms while two others, Mohammad Adnan and Tahir Shafiq (both civilians), were given eight and seven years jail sentence respectively.
Apart from Dr Usman, who was caught during the attack, other serviceman and five civilians were found guilty of abetment.
Their trial by the military court, which was headed by a brigadier, had lasted over five months and had taken place at an undisclosed location.
Mehmood, who was a trooper, was among the five sentenced to be hanged for their role in an Al Qaeda-inspired assassination attempt on Musharraf's life in late 2003.
Musharraf, who was in power at the time, narrowly escaped the bid when two suicide car bombers rammed his motorcade on Dec 25, 2003, in Rawalpindi. Fifteen people were killed in that attack.
It was the second attempt on Musharraf's life that month, and several soldiers, air force personnel and militants were arrested after the two attacks.
Mehmood and civilians Zubair Ahmed, Rashid Bhatti, Rashid Qureshi, Ghulam Sarwar and Akhlaque Ahmed were convicted in the case.
PM told at meeting at GHQ
‘Army, ISAF agree to take Fazlullah out in coming days’
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while chairing a meeting on the country’s internal security at General Headquarters (GHQ), was informed about the army and Isaf’s decision to target Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Mullah Fazlullah.
Fazlullah was reportedly in contact with the Peshawar school attackers from Afghanistan during the assault which left 150 people, mostly school children, dead on December 16.
“Although Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif and DG ISI Rizwan Akhter have provided audio proof of attackers talking to Fazlullah during the assault, Army is currently refraining from chasing targets across the international border,” the sources said. The audio recording, handed to Afghan authorities, was in Pashto.
Further, sources said, the military leadership and Isaf agreed to target Fazlullah in a drone attack rather than a ground operation in the Nanger Har, Nooristan and Kunar areas of Afghanistan, where Fazlullah is believed to be taking sanctuary.
They further said that Army will provide the Afghan government and Isaf a ‘reasonable’ amount of time to fulfill their promise of action against Fazlullah. “At the same time, Pakistan Army will continue with its operation and attacks in Tirah Valley, Khyber Agency and Mohmand Agency,” the sources added.
Prime Minister Nawaz was also informed that if Fazlullah was not hit by a missile after a certain time period, the Army will consider other options.
Meeting of the civilian and military leadership led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif at the General Headquarters on Friday concluded with the two expressing strong resolve to eradicate terrorism from the country.
During the meeting centered on national security, the leadership agreed that no leniency would be extended to terrorists and tough steps would be taken in this regard.
It was also decided that security at the Pak-Afghan border would be tightened in order to restrain cross-border movement of militants.
The meeting also decided that the operation being conducted in North Waziristan and Khyber would be expanded and militant hideouts would be targeted in Tirah valley of Khyber as well as in other tribal areas in the next stage of Zarb-i-Azb.
Government assured the armed forces that all necessary resources, information and cooperation would be extended for the elimination of terrorists. The prime minister also assured the military leadership that required amendments would be made in anti-terror laws.
It was also decided that intelligence-sharing between civilian and military intelligence agencies would be strengthened to trace militants and their hideouts in tribal areas as well as in major cities.
Peshawar attack probe
Four suspects, including woman, arrested in Bahawalpur
BAHAWALPUR: At least four suspects, including a woman, were arrested from southern Punjab’s Hasilpur area in connection with Tuesday’s carnage in Peshawar that claimed the lives of more than 140 people.
The four were tracked through a mobile SIM which was reportedly used by terrorists during the attack on the military-run Army Public School. The SIM was registered in the name of the woman who was taken into custody along with three others from Gharibabad area of Hasilpur, a city in the district of Bahawalpur.
A local mobile franchise dealer was also included in the scope of investigations.
The arrests come days after the attack claimed the lives of over 140 people and drew condemnation from various quarters nationally and internationally.
Earlier on Thursday, Inspector General (IG) Police Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Nasir Durrani had said that the team constituted to investigate the attack was currently working on the available evidence.
He had that the team had a forensic lab at its disposal and replete with crime scene investigation officers who were helping to obtain and preserve evidence from the scene and analyse it.
Durrani had also said that leads coming from initial investigation of the school massacre extended beyond the country’s border.
According to reports, militants had been in direct communication with their handler in Afghanistan, Umar Naray, alias Umar Khalifa Adinzai – a well-known commander of the TTP’s Tariq Geedar group. “He was directing the suicide bombers and the attack group,” the official had said.
Military courts being established for terror trials, says Khawaja Asif
ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khwaja Asif on Friday stated that military courts were being established for trials of cases relating to terrorism.
Speaking to DawnNews in an interview, Asif said carrying out of death penalty against terrorists would begin soon, adding that the government had consciously decided to lift the moratorium on capital punishment.
He further said that the process of establishing military courts for the purpose of trying terror suspects was already underway.
Asif added that there would be no discrimination in the carrying out convictions of terrorists who have been sentenced to death and whose appeals have been rejected.
The defence minister’s remarks comes as the civilian and military leadership of the country has decided on zero tolerance for terror.
The latest developments come in the aftermath of the attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School in which over 140 people — mostly children — were killed.
Soon after the attack, the prime minister lifted the moratorium on capital punishment and managed to develop consensus among parliamentary parties on the way forward in fighting the scourge of terrorism in the country. Moreover, the army chief dashed to Kabul around the same time, securing assurances from Kabul and the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) for anti-terror cooperation
Umar Mansoor mastermind of APS attack: TTP
DI KHAN: The most hated man in the country is a 36-year-old father of three and volleyball enthusiast nicknamed “Slim”. His real name is Umar Mansoor and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan say he masterminded this week’s massacre of 132 children and nine staff at a school in Peshawar – the deadliest militant attack in Pakistan’s history.
A video posted on Thursday on a website used by the Taliban shows a man, holding an admonishing finger aloft as he seeks to justify the December 16 attack.
The caption identified him as Umar Mansoor.
“If our women and children die as martyrs, your children will not escape,” he said. “We will fight against you in such a style that you attack us and we will take revenge on innocents.”
The Taliban say the attack, in which gunmen wearing suicide-bomb vests executed children, was retaliation for a military offensive carried out by the army.
Six TTP members interviewed by Reuters confirmed the mastermind was Mansoor. Four of them said he is close to Mullah Fazlullah.
Mansoor got a high school education in the capital, Islamabad, two Taliban members said, and later studied in a madrassah. “Umar Mansoor had a tough mind from a very young age, he was always in fights with other boys,” said one Taliban member.
Mansoor has two brothers and spent some time working in the city of Karachi as a labourer before joining the Taliban soon after it was formed, in late 2007, said one commander.
His nickname is “nary,” a word in the Pashto language meaning “slim”, and he is the father of two daughters and a son, said another commanders.
“(Mansoor) likes to play volleyball,” said one of the Taliban members. “He is a good volleyball player. Wherever he shifts his office, he puts a volleyball net up.”
The Taliban video describes him as the “amir”, or leader, of Peshawar and nearby Darra Adam Khel.
Mansoor deeply opposes talks with the government, the commanders said.
“He was very strict from the start when he joined,” a commander said. “He left many commanders behind if they had a soft corner (of their heart) for the government.” - Reuters
Formation of counter-terror working group under consideration
ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary committee tasked to come up with a national action plan against militants decided on Friday to form a working group consisting of military and civilian experts to provide recommendation to counter terrorism.
The military and civilian leaders will form an action plan which will be then reviewed by the committee. After the committee approves the recommendations by the working group, the recommendations will be presented before Parliament.
After Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s announcement to form a committee of all parliamentary groups for an anti-terror action plan in the wake of Tehreek-e-Taliban’s attack on an army-run school in Peshawar which killed 148 people, the lawmakers met for their first meeting on Friday.
Earlier, the representatives of all major political parties discussed the possible national action plan in Parliament to counter terrorism.
“If we fail to act now, people of Pakistan will say either our leaders are incompetent or they are cowards. If we don’t act, somebody else will, and we will all be irrelevant and instead of our vision of becoming an Asian Tiger, we will be considered as a paper tiger,” Senator Mushahid Hussain who is representing Pakistan Muslim League-Q in the committee said.
The following MPs are representing their parties to the committee: Dr Shireen Mazari, PTI, Federal Minister for Housing and Works Akram Durrani, JUI-F, Sahibzada Tariqullah, JI, Senator Rehman Malik and Qamar Zaman Kaira, PPP, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, PkMAP, Sheikh Rashid, AML, Anisa Zaib, PPP-Sherpao, Ijazul Haq, PML-Zia, Farooq Sattar and Senator Babar Khan Ghauri, MQM.
Officials of NACTA, intelligence agencies, ministries of defence and interior, military and National Crisis Management Cell are also participating in the meeting.
The meeting is being held in private with no media personnel allowed.
7 KP terror convicts likely to be hanged: IG prisons
PESHAWAR: The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has seven prisoners sentenced to death under the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) and are likely to be hanged after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the moratorium on the death penalty.
Inspector General (IG) of KP prisons Kifayatullah Khan told DawnNews that the total number of prisoners sentenced to death and are currently imprisoned, is 192, out of which six or seven are those who had been charged and punished under the ATA.
According to jail statistics, the total number of prisoners in KP jails is 8,955 with Haripur having the highest number with 1,941, Peshawar Central jail with 1,859, Bannu with 718 and Dera Ismail Khan with 340 prisoners.
The remaining prisoners are kept in other jails of the province.
Responding to a query about threats to jails in Peshawar after the school attack, the IG said that the execution of condemned prisoners was banned in 2008, “but we are progressing with the procedure as per new directives”.
Regarding the links of prisoners to militant groups, Khan said that it was not the jail authority’s mandate. However, those convicted under the ATA or charged under Articles 302 and 788 are applicable under terror charges.
Khan also remarked that security was on high alert following intelligence reports of looming threats.
Army chief visits Khyber Agency, reviews operation
PESHAWAR: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on Friday visited Khyber Agency to review the ongoing military offensive against Taliban militants, official said.
"COAS (chief of the army staff) visited Khyber agency today and reviewed progress of ongoing ground operation," said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relation.
Gen Sharif was informed that in three different actions in the last two days, 62 terrorists have been killed in ground offensives and another 57 in aerial strikes.
The army chief also met with soldiers and appreciated their spirit and high morale.
"COAS reiterated that we will continue to hit these terrorists wherever they are and operations will continue till we eliminate the last terrorist," said the statement.
Ap reports: Pakistani warplanes and ground forces killed at least 77 militants in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said Friday, days after Taliban fighters killed 148 people - most of them children - in a school massacre.
The violence at a school in Peshawar earlier this week stunned the country and brought cries for retribution. In the wake of the mass killing the military has struck targets in the Khyber tribal region and approved the death penalty for six convicted terrorists.
The military said its ground forces late Thursday killed 10 militants while airstrikes killed another 17, including an Uzbek commander. Another 32 alleged terrorists were killed by security forces in an ambush in Tirah valley in Khyber on Friday as they headed toward the Afghan border, the military said.
On Friday morning, troops killed 18 more militants during a “cordon and search operation” in Khyber, the military said.
The military said the army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, was traveling to Khyber Friday to meet with troops taking part in the ground operation.
FIR lodged against Maulana Abdul Aziz
ISLAMABAD: An FIR against Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz was lodged at the Aabpara police station on Friday, three hours after protesters had gathered outside it.
The FIR was lodged under Section 506 (II) of the PPC, against criminal intimidation.
A large crowd had gathered outside Lal Masjid on Friday evening, following on from a similar vigil on Thursday evening. Soon they were joined by political leaders including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Senator Tahir Hussain Mashadi, Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) Nafeesa Shah, Awami National Party's (ANP) Bushra Gohar and Acting President of National Party Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo.
As the crowd outside Lal Masjid swelled, they moved towards the Aabpara police station. Officials stopped them from entering the station but an application for registering an FIR against Maulana Aziz was filed. The protesters camped outside the police station, refusing to disperse till the report was registered.
Heavy contingents of police, some in riot gear, were deployed outside the station to avoid any untoward incident.
Earlier on Friday, the organizer of the protest, Nasir put forth his charter of demands and explained why he was leading protest.
Nasir, the independent candidate who contested elections from the NA-250 constituency said:
"Maulana Abdul Aziz lives in the heart of Islamabad and has been allowed to validate the extremist narrative for a decade now," Nasir said.
"We should never forget," Nasir urged sternly, adding, the sacrifices of Peshawar should never be erased from our memories and we should stand up and take action against the extremists.
Urging all arm-chair activists to stand up, Nasir said the blame lies on every citizen's head, "The children who were killed in Peshawar, you and I have killed them. When in Hangu, a suicide bomber was entering the school and Aitzaz Hasan saved them, did we not know students are on the hit-list of Taliban?"
15 terrorists killed in countrywide crackdowns
KARACHI/QUETTA/GUJRAT/MUZAFFARABAD: Police and security forces sprang into action country wide and killed 15 terrorists of banned outfits in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan provinces, three days after militant attack on a school claimed life of 132 children in Peshawar.
According to reports, eight terrorists were killed in a search operation by security troops in Sanjawi, a remote area of Balochistan’s Ziarat district.
Local administration said the operation began in wee hours of Friday on a tip off about presence of militants in a village. Officials said security forces raided a hideout of militants and left eight fighters dead.
They said only one of the terrorists was identified as Najam Uddin, a local commander of banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) while his seven associates appeared to be foreigners, adding that two of the fighters were captured in injured condition.
Their bodies were shifted to district hospital Ziarat.
In Punjab, police claimed to have killed two TTP members in an encounter at Lalamusa tehsil of Gujrat district.
In Sindh, five Taliban militants were killed in a clash with Rangers in Karachi.
Rangers spokesman said the militants opened fire when Rangers raided their hideout in Mangopir locality. The Rangers also recovered automatic weapons and explosive materials from the hideout.
Meanwhile, police arrested 128 Afghan nationals who were illegally living in Azad Kashmir.
Officials said the Afghan families were arrested from Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Pir Kot, Rawlakot and other areas of Azad Kashmir during crackdown against illegal immigrants. - INP
TTP plans to hit top universities and schools in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is believed to have fake identification cards of different cantonments and educational institutions. It is feared that they have planned to kidnap students from top universities of the country, mostly from Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Lahore in order to bargain with the government and suppress the voice of nation raised against them.
Sources claims that terrorists have plans to kidnap students from institutions including Bharia University Islamabad, NUST Islamabad, Army Medical College Rawalpindi, Fauji Foundation University, Beaconhouse school system, Beaconhouse National University, FAST University and many more educational institutions where the upper class is getting education.
Sources also claims that 22 to 24 suicide attackers have been dispatched to Islamabad/Rawalpindi and Lahore for carrying out terrorist activities while Karachi outfit has been directed to decide accordingly. Exact identification regarding intended target has yet not been confirmed thus notifying Lahore, Punjab government and federal government to take measures accordingly and according to own vulnerabilities.
It was also known through this threat that TTP is ready to bypass cantonments/set-ups in order to carry out the operation. Federal government is officially not sharing such information to media to avoid panic but ministry of Interior has directed Punjab province to be on high alert. - INP
PTI-govt ‘agreement’ likely next week
ISLAMABAD: A ‘’positive headway’’ has been made in the latest resumed negotiations between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and government Friday.
A understanding to this effect to resolve political standoff in likely to be reached next week.
The optimum was expressed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi while talking to newsmen following their talks in Islamabad Friday evening.
Both sides said remarkable progress has been made and hoped that gaps would be bridged and an agreement signed next week.
Ishaq Dar said they are very close to the final document. He said the Government team would brief the Prime Minister and PTI team will take Imran Khan into confidence about progress made so far. He said PML(N) would also take other political parties into confidence before finalizing the document.
The Minister said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif desires to conclude the dialogue successfully.
“Though we have come close enough to a settlement, however there is still a small gap, which will be hopefully be closed up in our subsequent sittings,” Dar said.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi said a tangible progress has been made on contentious points and hoped that the spirit with which the two sides are engaged would continue to settle all issues.
“We hashed out issues mattering to both sides in a constructive atmosphere. Talks have progressed by leaps and bounds. We might reach an agreement anytime next week,” Vice Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a post-meeting press briefing.
Replying to a question about any onward motion respecting a ‘highly-sought-after’ consensus on Terms of Reference (ToRs), a rather somber looking Qureshi said a lot had been agreed upon in this regard.
“ToRs were addressed in depth. All I can say is that there had been a massive advancement on it,” he said further.
Qureshi said differences have also been narrowed down on terms of reference of the proposed Judicial Commission to investigate into allegations of rigging in general elections.
Federal ministers Ishaq Dar and Ahsan Iqbal comprise of government’s team while Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Jahangir Khan Tarin and Asad Umar are representing the PTI.
The meeting was conducted at the residence of Jahangir Tarin. - NNI
Mumbai attack ‘mastermind’ Lakhvi detained under MPO
ISLAMABAD: Alleged mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi who was granted bail by an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad on Thursday has been detained under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail.
A senior government source said that the government has also decided to appeal against the approval of Lakhvi’s bail in superior courts. The ATC had ordered the release of Lakhvi after his post-arrest bail plea was accepted and Judge Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi had set Lakhvi’s bail at Rs1 million. The decision drew a sharp reaction from India and surprised many with its unfortunate timing, coming just days after one of the deadliest terror attacks the country has ever seen.
Lakhvi is among the seven persons charged with planning and helping carry out the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The six other men facing trial in Adiala Jail for their alleged involvement in Mumbai attacks are Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Younas Anjum, Jamil Ahmed, Mazhar Iqbal and Abdul Majid.
At the time of the attacks, Lakhvi was believed to be the operational head of the banned Laskhar-i-Taiba (LT) that has been accused by India of carrying out the attacks in India’s financial capital.
Lakhvi along with Zarar Shah was allegedly the key planner of the attack that killed 166 people.
The acceptance of his bail plea had come as Pakistan was mourning the deaths of school children and other victims of Tuesday’s Taliban massacre and New Delhi had made a visible effort to show solidarity with Islamabad.
Suicide bomber involved in Wagah border incident identified
LAHORE: The security forces made a significant progress regarding investigations of November 2 suicide attack at Wagah Border in Lahore.
According to a private television channel, suicide bomber, which blew him up after parade, was identified as Hanifullah.
The bomber was 23-year-old and belonged to Bajaur Agency. Security agencies have taken some close family members of the bomber into custody.
Hanif was a resident of Momand village in Bajaur Agency and hadn’t returned home for the last two years. He received training from a banned outfit in Afghanistan.
According to reports, investigation has been started after taking his family into custody. Wagha Border blast had claimed 61 lives.
At least 60 people, many women among them, were killed in the deadly suicide blast on Nov 2. - NNI
CJP convenes meeting of CJs, judges of ATCs
ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan on Friday has called a meeting of the chief justices of four high courts and monitoring judges of the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on December 24 for an early hearing of the terrorism cases.
Justice Nasirul Mulk ordered submission of the details of all the terrorism cases in the ATCs countrywide.
He has called this meeting on December 24 at Supreme Court of Pakistan Islamabad to get these cases end as soon as possible after holding hearing of these cases.
The meeting would come up with a strategy to finish the pending cases earlier than they were supposed to be.
“The meeting will consider different proposals regarding the expeditious disposal of cases under anti terrorism law,” a press statement issued by the Supreme Court said. - NNI