Archive for the ‘Politics’ 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 – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12491288

Sunny Deol on our political masters

From one of my friends here in Lahore, check out this ‘political satire’ :)
Nicely pulled off, mashAllah.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80PfS9tbW54
Nice…

P.S. Anybody here knows how to embed the damn videos on the metroblogs? The embed code just disappears after I save. Help on this, anyone?

The MQM in Lahore

MQM has long tried to make inroads in Lahore. The controversial party is quite ‘known’ for their popularity in Karachi, much like Zardari is known for his popularity all over Pakistan.
I remember linking MQM’s first try to get into Lahore by opening a center here, with a sudden increase in reports of mobile snatching. Nevertheless, the following is a great reminder our political parties will go to, to show their strength (much like MQM ‘show of strength’ on that fateful day in Karachi when people were shown being shot at on national television).

MQM Rally photoshopped

MQM Rally photoshopped

Thanks to this keen-eyed blogger, we have now a ‘large presence of MQM in Baltistan, Skardu’. The image is photoshopped to show a larger crowd. More details here

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is Reinstated!

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry

Prime Minister of Pakistan, Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani has just announced to restore all deposed judges including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhrty in a dramatic development. In his address to the nation, Mr. Gillani has promised to reinstate Mr. Chaudhry on 21st of March, the day when the current Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar retires.

The decision came along as the Long March in leadership of Nawaz Sharif and Aitezaz Ahsan was on its way to Islamabad near Gujranwala.

There is wide-spread early morning jubiliation and Pakistanis are celebrating the rise of a new Pakistan…

Pakistan Zindabad!!

Image Source: Pakistaniat.com

Lahorified; the Long March proceeds towards Islamabad

As Lahorites defied a virtual curfew in the city; Nawaz Sharif, his followers and the lawyers broke through all obstacles in their resolve to continue with the long march towards Islamabad’s Constitution Avenue.

Police baton-charging protestors on the Mall

Police baton-charging protestors on the Mall

The day had started with whole city celebrating the kite-flying festival of Basant while the security forces cracked down on lawyers and protestors gathering at GPO Chowk near the Lahore High Court. All prominent political activists and lawyers’ leaders including Mr.Nawaz Sharif and Barrister Aitezaz Ahsan were put under house arrest by official orders from the capital.

Nawaz Sharif addressing before leaving his Model Town residence

Nawaz Sharif addressing before leaving his Model Town residence

Nawaz Sharif after addressing his followers at his Model Town residence flouted the house-arrest and by people’s force on his side, proceeded towards Yadgar via Model Town Morr, Kalma Chowk, Muslim Town Morr, Ichhra, Mozang Chungi, and Data Darbar. Procession of lawyers followed under the leadership of Ahsan. Police after showing considerable resistance later backed off giving clear way to thousands of vehicles, motor-bikes and people on foot who continued their march in full zeal and spirit.

History has proven whenever people of this city take it to streets, change comes following. After today’s show of the people’s power, we might hear good news of political stability and reconciliation soon…

Images Courtesy: BBC News

Basant night unfolds despite Long March

Lahore has sadly been put under siege by the so-called saviors of democracy. All entry points to the city have been cordoned off to prevent any of the lawyers from reaching Lahore. According to its original schedule, Long March is to continue from Lahore to Islamabad on Sunday. In a ridiculous move, the current Punjab Government has officially announced Lahore’s most celebrated event; Basant to be held on Sunday too.

Reports are that despite all the chaos around, people in Lahore are celebrating Basant Night tonight. Get-togethers, parties and kite-flying competitions have been arranged on very short notice in Old Lahore as well as other parts of the city. And we even hear that two people have already died, thanks to deadly wire-strings that some people use to fly kites.

[poll=5]

I don’t even know whether we are too indifferent or is it really not important to miss an opportunity to have fun with family and friends. On the other hand, we have history’s most shameful events uncovering as hard-core crackdown on lawyers, political activists and members of the civil society continues. More serious news is coming from blogger updates warning that the government might be blocking all mobile phone services and fuel supply as well as closing down all acadmeic institutions to thwart Long March’s progression. (Please note that these updates are not confirmed yet).

Long March as it happens

Police block a street in Lahore ahead of Long March

Police block a street in Lahore ahead of Long March

Photo Courtesy: SeeNReport

The Government has literally let lose all patience in stopping lawyers, political activists, members of the civil society and the common people from reaching Islamabad for the lawyer’s mass sit-in. In Karachi, the launchpad of the march, we saw authorities blocking highways, baton-charging marchers and mass arrests of the participants. Situation may spiral out of control as there are reports of further clashes, protests, arrests and cars being set on fire in the metropolis.

Situation might not be different in Punjab and rest of the Sindh province, where Section 144 was imposed restricing public gatherings and processions of any sorts, as the march proceeds towards Islamabad.

Bloggers around the country are providing hand-on news of the Long March as it happens. Teeth Maestro is doing live coverage of the march by getting updates from people using wide number of sources and means including Twitter.

You can watch further citizen journalism updates on SeeNReport‘s Long March page.

And the showdown begins

Effective from today, Section 144 has been imposed throughout Punjab to bar public gatherings, protests or processions of the lawyers movement and their supporters. The Long March is to begin simultaneously from Karachi and Quetta on March 12 to reach Lahore on the 14th and arriving at Islamabad’s Constitution Avenue on March 16.

By official orders, army has been called in 30 while rangers in 11 districts of the Punjab province giving a clear sign that the Government seriously does not want things to proceed so easily. Security forces have also started search operations for prominent leaders to put them behind bars or under house arrest while the PML(N) leadership is asking the civil administration to not obey the ‘illegitimate’ orders.

Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, has on the other hand warned of dire consequences to law-breakers and anyone causing social unrest or igniting a security situation in the capital. For security reasons, he has also proposed the organizers of the Long March to chose a venue other than the sensitive Constitution Avenue. Lawyers rejected the government’s concern by guaranteeing that there will not be any law and order violation and crowds will be behaving according to a pre-defined code of march.

Both fronts are determined to their respective ambitions causing anxiety and fear of mass political or security instability in an already weakened nation. And unfortunately, our leaders have yet to realize how bad the situation for Pakistan has really become.

Section 144 imposed, crackdown on politicians & lawyers

Section 144 was imposed in Lahore and in several other cities of Punjab on Tuesday for three days effective from Wednesday. The crack down agains different politicians and lawyers has been started.

Under the section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), no protest, march or gathering of people at one place would be allowed. These cities include Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Pakpattan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Gujrat.

The decision has been taken just a day before the date of proposed long march and when the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari is not in the country.

The government has been trying hard to stop the long march of lawyers and different political parties. For this reason, the government has imposed section 144 in different districts of Punjab and lists have been provided to the police officials for the instant arrest of different lawyers and political leaders.

The decision was taken after a long meeting held in office of Capital City Police Officer Lahore. The officials are denying any arrests so far whereas; the media has been reporting that many people have been arrested.

It is being considered the worst crack down so far. The government may deploy army in as many as 30 districts of Punjab province, whereas; the rangers will be deployed in 11 districts in face of lawyers and other political activists.

On other side, the politicians and the lawyers are still encouraging people to go for a peaceful long march and struggle peacefully to make this long march a success.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Mian Shahbaz Sharif on Tuesday urged police and administration to defy unconstitutional orders. ‘The government could not stop the people from joining the long march. The people shall reach Islamabad at all costs’, he said.

Ali Ahmed Kurd, the president of The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) said, ‘Section 144 could not stop the people from joining the long march’. ‘The lawyers are peaceful and the long march and subsequent sit-in will also be peaceful’, he added.

Far from the “maddening” crowd…

Lahore is brimming to its maddening political edge as political parties battle it out in the streets. Loyalists branding party emblems are gathering everywhere. The Mall is a political boulevard where all parties deem it necessary to make their presence felt.

Such a “battle” brought me to an eventful PML-N rally on The Mall on 26 February. Armed with my camera and its bag; I walked hesitantly into the rally, a potential terrorist strike target. I freelance as a photojournalist, an interesting but risky job.

                                                                 The loyalists meet...

Here, the workers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had blocked The Mall for over five hours in their protest against the Supreme Court (SC) verdict that disqualified the Sharif brothers from contesting the general elections.

Unrest prevailed as the protest intensified when aggressive party workers marched towards the Punjab Assembly building to break the locks after PML-N parliamentarians had to sit on the staircase to conduct the session.

Anti-Zardari slogans were chanted, tyres were burnt tyres and banners containing pictures of PPP leaders were brandished. The protesters held placards and banners that condemned the SC and the PPP-led government.

Burning tyres...

During the protest, a worker climbed a streetlight to hoist a PML-N flag.

Flag hoister

Addressing the workers, PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz said the SC had disqualified PML-N leadership on the directives of President Asif Ali Zardari and alleged that “The decision was a raid on democracy”.

Hamza Shahbaz

The other side:

Amid the noise at such ralies, a series of fortunate and misfortunate events also take place. A rally is a world in itself, in addition to the main political activity, there is a lot that goes on.

 

Pickpockets have a field day, robbing unsuspecting spectators of their cell phones, wallets and whatever they can get their hands on. I lost my cellphone as a man smuggled his way into my pocket and disappeared into thin air. 

Hawkers scramble about the gathering, selling water, food and the bare necessities. You’ll find people munching on goodies, browsing lottery tickets and offering free political analysis to everyone around them.

 

Amid  the commotion...

Pushy people:

Amid the commotion, one also gets assaulted by “pushy” people who force their way towards the stage. I was elbowed and my sunglasses fell to the road. Before I could pick them up, a “footful” of people stomped their way through and reduced it into a mere wire mesh! Why was I wearing sunglasses? Well the smoke from the burning tyres can be quite tearful at times!

Shattered shades...

“Zardari chuha”/Zardari Kuta

Animal rights everyone? Protesters hanged a live mouse from a board that read out “Zardaru chuha” (Translated: Zardari is a mouse). I couldn’t help but capture this one. Is this freedom of expression of abuse of expression? The little mouse was trembling and paying with its life for someone else’s crimes.

Zardari Chuha

Zardari Chuha

 

Men wearing horror masks and holding placards inscribed with Zardari Kuta (Translated: Zardari is a dog) are rampant throughout these anti-PPP rallies. These men get a lot of press attention, though such images may not be published, but they remain an irresistible catch for any photographer.

Seems familiar?

Seems familiar?

The ‘acting’ activists:

The political circus brings with it many characters. Activists try to steal the show by using their theatrical abilities to catch everyone’s attention. Here men beat their chests, “mourning” the SC verdict.

PML N-autanki

PML N-autanki

 

 It seems that as things become increasingly complicated in this political turmoil, it is advisable to witness the events from the safety of your house. The Mall shall remain choked and tense until things settle down. Lets hope the anarchy simmers down and Lahore is restored to its glory.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.