Flashpoint – January 20, 2020

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What’s Happening?

The news stories today report on a variety of developments including the issue of forced conversions in Sindh, Pakistan’s official stance on a recent forced conversion case, state of media freedom in Pakistan, the final review of Pakistan measures against money laundering and terror financing by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Op-eds discuss the FATF’s upcoming review of Pakistan anti-terror financing measures, rigorous imprisonment sentence to Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan workers, terrorism in Balochistan, an alleged 5th generation warfare against Pakistan and Islamabad Bar Association’s bigoted conditions for membership.

 

Today’s News Stories

Man thrashed, arrested for alleged blasphemy at Sialkot shrine

A man was booked for allegedly desecrating the holy Quran inside a shrine at a local graveyard in Kot Chado village, Bheello Mahaar in Daska tehsil on Sunday. According to the first information report, a 45-year-old man was allegedly desecrating copies of the Quran when some locals saw him while passing by after Fajr prayers in a nearby mosque. They caught the suspect, thrashed him and handed him over to police. Motra police registered a case against the suspect under sections 295-B and 295 of the PPC on the report of a landlord, Chaudhry Muhammad Zubair. They also sent the suspect behind bars. Senior police officials said that further investigations were under way.

Read more in Dawn

TLP decides to challenge ATC verdict against workers

The Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) has decided to challenge the Anti-terrorism Court (ATC)’s verdict against its workers in the Lahore High Court. The party has also decided to form a large panel of lawyers to represent the convicts. TLP sources told Daily Ummat that the sentence is very harsh which has no parallels in human history. One convict is a 72 years old who is visually impaired. TLP lawyer Inayatul Haq Shah said that all the evidence was in favour but during the last two days, suddenly everything went against us. Daily Ummat sources also informed that the majority of the convicts belong to the village of TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, including his elder brother Amir Hussain and son, Muhammad Ali. No one named in the FIR has reportedly acquitted by the court.

Read more in Daily Ummat

Parliamentary panel finds Sindh as hub of forced conversions

The parliamentary committee to protect minorities from forced conversions has observed that cases of forced conversions are mostly occurring in Sindh, while certain religious groups might even be considering conversion of minor girls through criminal tactics as legal. The committee that met in the Parliament House here on Friday adopted its terms of reference and decided to finalise its suggestions in six months. Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar, chairman of the committee, said the issue was sensitive, serious and complicated and the committee would explore all aspects to get firsthand information about the matter.

Read more in Dawn

Delhi’s concern about Pakistani minorities termed mischievous

The Foreign Office on Saturday dismissed as “mischievous” Delhi’s attempts at playing up isolated and fabricated incidents involving Pakistani minorities and warned that such negative tactics would not mask the plight of Indian minorities, who are being subjugated by extremist Hindus. The FO said a senior diplomat from the High Commission of India was summoned for a demarche rejecting “the mischievous portrayal by India of isolated, fabricated incidents involving Pakistani citizens as minorities’ rights issues”. The Indian diplomat was summoned a day after a Pakistani diplomat was called to India’s External Affairs Ministry for protesting and conveying concerns over abduction of Hindu girls in Sindh.

Read more in Dawn

CPNE report depicts grim picture of media freedom

At least seven journalists were reportedly murdered and 60 booked under anti-terrorism and other laws last year as media in Pakistan continued to face extreme pressure. This was revealed by the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) in its Pakistan Media Freedom Report 2019 issued on Sunday. The report says that although Article 19 of the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantee freedom of expression and free media, media in Pakistan continued to come under strict forms of physical intimidation during the year.

Read more in Dawn, The News, Daily Times

 

Opinion

Arrest of journalist and cyberspace laws

An editorial piece in Daily Times says, Azharul Haq, a jobless journalist has fallen prey to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016, which gives unquestionable powers to law-enforcement agencies to interpret anyone’s speech and penalise them. As per the newspaper, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested Azhar for allegedly sharing anti-state content on Facebook. Daily Times writes there has been an organised campaign by state elements and non-state actors to silence dissidents. It says those who try to disagree with the state narrative often face a barrage of abuses and threats both online and offline. Many journalists and social media activists have faced online harassment, it writes, a social movement on the fair usage of cyber space could be an appropriate answer, it adds.

Read more in Daily Times

Harsh sentences

This editorial piece in Dawn comments on an anti-terrorism court’s decision to sentence 86 workers of Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to 55 years in prison, along with the imposition of a hefty fine and the seizure of their assets. The convicts had engaged in violent protests against exoneration of Aasia Bibi by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The newspaper believes the punishments however, is too harsh and is disproportionate to the crime and it may create sympathy for an admittedly intolerant outfit.  The verdict brings into question the rationale behind the perpetuation of justice systems, notably in the form of anti-terrorism courts, which deny the accused bail, and usually extend the harshest of punishments, it adds.

Read more in Dawn

State’s writ restored

This editorial in The Nation says with the conviction of 86 activists of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) for fifty-five years each, an anti-terrorism court has given the message that no one can challenge the writ of the state. It calls the verdict exemplary and says no one in Pakistan should harbor any illusions of invincibility after this moment, regardless of where they stand on the political and religious spectrum. “This exemplary verdict was extremely necessary and the court must be commended for recognizing the gravity of the offence and the need for setting a strong precedent. TLP needed to be cut down to size as the party has been responsible for some of the most disruptive and destructive attacks on the state in the past few years,” the editorial further says.

Read more in The Nation

Taliban vs Islamic State

Shahzada Zulfiqar sheds light on the resurge of terrorism in Balochistan in this opinion piece for The News. He says, there has been a chain of targeted terror attacks, which primarily eliminated Afghan nationals, mostly those associated with the Afghan Taliban. He says the banned terrorist organization, Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for a number of these attacks, but Pakistani authorities deny any presence of Daesh in Balochistan. He says the police say that extremist organizations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and even IS, which has been involved in attacks against Pakistani security forces and police, assist one another in their actions. How long can the nation ignore Balochistan’s terrorism problem?, the writer asks.

Source: The News

Lawyers in a theocratic state

Yasser Latif Hamdani comments on Islamabad Bar Association (IBA)’s decision to solicit declaration of faith in the finality of Prophethood for membership of the bar. He says the IBA has now made it mandatory for its Muslim members to abuse Ahmadis’ founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani in order to get bar membership. He says it is amazing that in this day and age such bigotry finds official sanction. He says the decision is illegal as it violates Article 18 of the Constitution by putting an unfair restraint on trade and profession. “What we face is naked majoritarianism”, Yasser Latif writes. He says Pakistan became a theocratic state since 1973 that enables the Muslim majority to right roughshod over the rights of minorities in Pakistan. This state of affairs cannot continue, he says, it is a road leading to disaster, he adds.

Read more in Daily Times

Are we facing a 5th generation war?

In an opinion piece for Daily Jang, Anwar Ghazi says the 5th generation war does not target the government, armed forces or security agencies alone but us, the common people as well. He says 5th generation war is fought, covertly and unannounced through non-state actors, proxies and local facilitators to foment chaos, confusion, economic meltdown and divisions within the country. He says likewise cyberwars are fought through social media where online content either written or graphic is shared to target people’s morale, spread confusion as well as divide people along the religious, cultural and linguistic fault lines. He writes in details about different generations of warfare. He says our enemy is well aware that Pakistan cannot be conquered in a battle, so they have launched a 5th generation war on us.

Read more in Daily Jang

Pakistan – A victim of cyberterrorism

In his opinion piece for Daily Nawaiwaqt, Muhammad Akram Chaudhry says Pakistan has overcome terrorism but it has failed to take any measures to protect youth from negative thoughts, which can inflict more damage to the country. He says preventing youth from being inspired by extremist thoughts is being ignored and it seems to be a no priority for the government. He says socio-economic conditions of the country are not encouraging and unemployment is raging. He says such deprivation can strip youth of any hope and lure them into getting involved in cybercrimes.   He urges the government to take measures to give the youth hope so that they do not opt criminal or terrorist activities.

Read more in Daily Nawaiwaqt

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