Archive for the ‘Awaam Asks’ Category

Repost – QnA: Lahore shootings – unanswered questions

BBC’s Shoaib Hasan pretty much summarizes the whole story…

A court in Pakistan has delayed a hearing to decide whether an American who shot dead two men in Lahore last month has diplomatic immunity. The arrest of Raymond Davis has severely damaged relations between the countries. Much of the detail in the case remains unclear – the BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan looks at some of the unanswered questions. A rally against Raymond Davis in Lahore
The killings threaten to derail US-Pakistan ties

Is Raymond Davis a diplomat?

If you are thinking of a suavely dressed man in a three-piece suit who holds meetings with local officials to further or broaden his country’s agenda, you would be wrong. Mr Davis was definitely not employed for his diplomatic skills – he is more a “hands-on” person, working in what the US embassy says is its “administrative and technical affairs section”. Reports from the US say he is a former special forces soldier who left the military in 2003 and is working for the US embassy in Pakistan. As such, the US insists he is covered by the Vienna Convention which guarantees immunity from prosecution for all diplomatic staff.

Could he be a spy?

Many Pakistanis believe he is – there seem few other credible explanations as to why he was going around Lahore with a Glock pistol in a car with local number plates without informing local authorities.

It is a requirement for embassy staff – especially those from Western embassies – to inform local police of their movements, simply because they are prime targets for militants in Pakistan.
Raymond Davis
Mr Davis insists he was acting in self-defence

Mr Davis’s department in the US embassy is widely seen in Pakistan as a cover for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations. Mr Davis himself said he was a consultant employed by the US government. Researchers in the US say that since leaving the military, Mr Davis worked for a security firm called Hyperion LLC. But subsequent investigations by the US media have now shown that Hyperion exists only as a website. The offices that the company says it has in Orlando have been vacant for several years and the numbers on its website are unlisted.

Can Mr Davis be convicted for the murders?

Maybe. It all depends on how eager the Pakistani authorities are to punish him. The fact that he is possibly a spy does not mean he is not covered by diplomatic immunity. It is common practice for intelligence services across the world to send operatives under the cover of assignments to embassies.

Both Pakistani and US “diplomats” have been caught in such situations – and every time have been asked to leave the host country immediately with no possibility of a return. That is the maximum punishment that has been levied in the overwhelming majority of cases in countries which have signed the Vienna Convention. However, in some countries there are exceptions for serious offences committed, such as murder. Pakistan is one of those countries. The matter is now in the hands of the judiciary. But it is important to remember that Mr Davis has been charged with murder – the maximum sentence here is the death penalty.

Should Mr Davis have been carrying a gun?

Legally speaking, only Pakistani citizens with licences issued by the interior ministry are allowed to carry arms. No foreigner is allowed to carry arms, except soldiers or guards within the premises of an embassy. Both Pakistani nationals and foreigners caught carrying arms can be charged under a Pakistani criminal law which stipulates a jail term of six months to two years in addition to a fine. Mr Davis has also been charged under this law.

Was he acting in self-defence?

That was the initial plea made by Mr Davis and the US embassy. However, subsequent investigations by the police, forensic labs and the local and international media suggest that the two men were driving away from Mr Davis when they were shot. In February Lahore’s police chief said that Mr Davis was guilty of “cold-blooded murder” – he said that no fingerprints had been uncovered on the triggers of the pistols found on the bodies of the two men.

Shumaila, widow of Mohammad Faheem, in hospital before her death
Matters were further inflamed by the suicide of the widow of one of the men killed by Mr Davis
Furthermore he said that tests had shown that the bullets remained in the magazines of their guns, not the chambers, suggesting they weren’t about to shoot him. On the face of it, this leaves Mr Davis’s claim that they were robbers – with one even apparently cocking a gun at his head – looking very thin.

In addition, police say ballistics evidence shows that the pair were shot in the back – which again suggests they were moving away from Mr Davis, rather than about to attack him.

Who were the Pakistanis that Mr Davis shot?

In his initial statement, Mr Davis said they were robbers who were trying to steal his valuables. He and the US embassy have maintained this story. However, the men have no criminal records as such. Both have been identified as residents of Lahore by the police. The pair were carrying licensed pistols – a fact which led many to believe they might indeed have been robbers. However, security sources in Lahore say that they were part-time or low-level operatives for the local intelligence services. Although reports are sketchy about what they were doing in relation to Mr Davis, security officials believe it could be the case of a surveillance operation gone horribly wrong. Pakistani intelligence services routinely tail and monitor all embassy staff, Western or otherwise.

What about the second car and its victim?

A side event to the main drama concerning Mr Davis was the fact a third man was also killed during the incident. He was an innocent bystander run over by a US embassy vehicle, which was initially said to have arrived to rescue Mr Davis. The fact that an embassy vehicle was able to get to the spot so quickly was a source of astonishment to anyone who is even vaguely aware of the geography of Lahore. Given the incident was over within minutes, it seems incredible that anyone could negotiate the 12km (7.4-mile) 40-minute drive in peak traffic in less than five minutes.

The motorbike of the third man killed in the incident
A third man on his motorbike was killed in the incident by a mystery US car
But subsequent investigations have now shown that the second car – a Toyota Landcruiser – was with Mr Davis at the time of the incident. In fact, according to eyewitnesses, Mr Davis was leading and clearing the way for the Toyota when the incident took place.

In the light of what happened afterwards, it seems Mr Davis was in “protective mode” and opened fire to “secure” whoever or whatever was in the Toyota – the interior of this vehicle was not visible as its windows were tinted. It is evident in local TV footage that the second vehicle is going away from Mr Davis at the time of the incident. As it disappears into the dust, Mr Davis calmly pulls over and gives himself up. Pakistani authorities have asked for the Landcruiser and its driver to be handed over – a request with which the US has yet to comply.

What about behind-the-scenes negotiations?

As well as public pressure, US officials have also privately warned Pakistan’s government of far-reaching and severe consequences if Mr Davis is convicted. Unnamed US officials have also used the media to issue veiled warnings to Pakistan that diplomatic ties could be cut and all aid stopped. Despite Islamabad’s public stance on Mr Davis, Pakistani officials are said to have privately assured Washington that he will eventually be released. However, public pressure means that at the moment this could lead to a massive anti-government backlash. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has hinted that blood money could be paid to the families of the two men Mr Davis admits shooting, which could enable his release. There is speculation that US officials may try to establish contacts with the families in this regard. However, it is not clear that Mr Davis has been charged under laws which would allow blood money to be paid.

Source –

Model Town shakes up to a deadly awakening

It was only quarter past eight Monday morning when residents of Model Town were shaken by a glass-shattering sound and impact. People as far away as 10 KMs in Wapda Town and DHA, both in different directions from Model Town, heard a loud bang and saw smoke rising in the distance. Few minutes of utter panic followed until media reported a suicide attack in the otherwise calm part of the city.
Rubble of the SIA building in Model Town after suicide attack - Source: AFP via
Rescuers clearing rubble after suicide attack on the SIA building in Model Town, Lahore
Image Source: AFP via
Yesterday, the target was office of the FIA and Special Investigative Agency (SIA), a branch of secret police that investigates highly sensitive terrorism suspects and criminals. The office building totally collapsed as a result while 13 people fell victim to the horrendous episode with another 80 or so injured. Victims include passerby children who were heading towards school. Dr. Israr Ahmed’s Masjid is very close to the scene and bore the full brunt of impact where all glass has shattered. Similar was the effect on the entire block where home windows, doors and facades of houses were badly damaged.
This incident happened after a period of relative calm. Last time Lahorites saw terror up so close was when Moon Market was hit by attackers a few months back.
According to recent media reports, the Taliban have accepted the claim of the blast and called it a revenge over US drone strikes and Pakistan Army’s operation in the tribal areas.
Although many questions remain unanswered, however, the most important one still remains why are these sensitive agencies based in residential areas of the city? Similarly, how secure is the common man? and what from here on?
We strongly condemn terrorism of all sorts and pray for the deceased… May Allah bless them and their souls rest in Peace, Ameen! (Inna lillahe wa inna ilaihe rajioon)

Moon Market shaken by two bomb blasts

Two bomb blasts have targeted people at the congested Moon Market in Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Town area this evening. So far more than 30 people including women and children have lost their lives with 100+ injured. A lot of shops and other buildings caught fire when the two explosions occurred in car parks of two banks with an interval of 30 seconds.

Moon Market is usually a very busy place, especially, in the evenings; the time when this unfortunate incident took place. The market is popular for ladies clothes, jewelery and was being frequented by thousands of women, children and families during the current wedding season. Police officials as well as the Lahore Commissioner had declared these as suicide attacks while forensic experts are busy carrying out further investigation. Officials now have claimed that remote controlled bombs, instead of suicide bombers, were used to create havoc.

According to witnesses and media reports, citizens have flocked to the nearby Sheikh Zayed and Jinnah Hospitals to donate blood and inquire about their loved ones.

Today was another sad day when the common man suffered consequences of a war that is not going anywhere. Our leadership seems to have no clue about how to take everyone into confidence when their own ministers travel in bomb proof vehicles while citizens become victims of terrorism right on the streets of our cities.

I remember how the PML (N) politicians including the Sharifs condemned and blamed Salman Taseer for poor security when the Sri Lankan team was attacked. Now, they are in power themselves, and have no one else to blame things on. Should we expect mass resignations at least now? Or do they have a better explanation?

BBC News Coverage: BBC News

Dawn: Dawn News

Questions of the Hour

The political ‘kabaddi’ currently going on is not even surprising to most of us as it is just part of Pakistan’s cyclic history. While some optimists did think that things will be different this time and two largest democratic forces in Pakistan will finally pursue conciliatory power-sharing government for betterment of everyone; there still were people, a vast majority, that could foresee this honeymoon, sooner than later, coming to an unhappy end.

Situation in Pakistan is not in any case ready for another upheavel like this. Punjab was so far the only stable government regardless of its unfavorable attitude towards the centre. Disqualification of Sharif brothers from holding any public office for the thrid time can be justified as the honorable court’s verdict but imposition of Governor’s Rule and locking up of the Punjab Provincial Assembly building is surely a matter of grave objection.

However, for a common man, nothing has changed except for long traffic jams due to protests, purposeless damage to public infrastructre for which he had paid from his own pocket and city life coming to an uncertain but grinding halt.

The only bugging question is, regardless of who was right or who is wrong, can we really afford this crisis at this time? Can we bear watching ambulances stuck for hours due to almost daily road block by protesters at the Mall, and for how long? Will restoration of one man ensure speedy justice for a poor peasant? And, finally, do we even deserve democracy or are we just not ready or prepared for it yet?

Security for CM, Shahbaz Sharif, to cost Rs200 million (US $2.5 Million)

Apparently, the Punjab government is considering spending more than Rs200 million of tax payers money on Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s security. The budgeted amount will be spend on obtaining high tech gadgets, sniff dogs, bla bla, so the provincial government could safeguard our ‘national’ asset.

What say you guys? I say if Mian shab doesn’t feel safe in the current environment then maybe he should let someone else take over his position. We are begging IMF for loan these days and so its mind boggling that provincial govt. is considering spending this hefty sum on security of one (or few) individuals. Common Mian shab, we know you are better than this!!!

Citizen Failure



“Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in a desert.” Khalil Gibran

Photo Credit: AP Pakistan

Why is ‘Aata’ now available?


And they say it was an artificial crisis caused by smuggling of wheat to Afghanistan, Central Asia; fueled by evil intentions of the stockists; worsened by unplanned exports by the government; and hyped by bulk consumer purchases…

What factor do you blame the most?

Awaam Asks: Motorway Police

January 5, Saturday – 3:50 PM – On my way back from Sargodha to Lahore on the motorway, I saw one of the worst accidents in my life – Near Pindi Bhatian. I could see smoke on the main road from miles away on reaching the spot, there was a car burning in the middle of the road with 2 other cars crushed on the down side of the road. The car burning in the middle of the road had a burnt body besides it totally unattended – there was only a single police car on the spot with no fire-extinguishing apparatus from the scene it was looking that the car was burning for the last 5-10 minutes. The thing that was horrifying was the poor soul burning on the road was absolutely left un-attended. Question: Where was the motorway emergency team even after 10 minutes of the incident ?

Awaam: Imran Kazmi

LMB launches “Awaam Asks”

It may sound like any public opinion poll running on TV channels; but it is not! :)
And that’s because we will only be talking about Lahore and problems of the people associated with this city.

‘Awaam Asks’ or ‘Public Asks’ is a series being launched by LMB to include any concerns, questions, complaints, queries that you want to share or ask people in authority and/or the citizens of this city.

Just suggest us an issue or concern using ‘Suggest a Story’ link on main LMB page and don’t forget to include ‘Awaam Asks’ in title of the story.

Happy Complaining! :)

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