Irshad Ranjhani’s killing sends shock waves in Sindh, widespread protests from Karachi to Kashmore demanding justice

KARACHI: Indus Chronicle Report, Feb 10, 2019 A widespread protest was witnessed all along the Sindh province against the killing of a political activist Irshad Ranjhani who was shot by a Karachi UC chairman Raheem Shah. Irshad Ranjhani was the chairman of Jeay Sindh Tehreek, Karachi. Almost all major cities and towns of the province echoed with the protest demonstrations and sit-ins as the political activists, human rights activists and political parties demanded justice for the victim. Human rights activists Sorath Lohar and Illahi Bux Bikak lead a sit-in staged in front of Sindh Governor House in Karachi while at another location in Malir another group of protestors including Sindhi Ababi Sangat blocked National Highway. National parties including Sindh United Party, Jeay Sindh Tehreek, Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, and others staged a sit-in at the crime scene in ‘Bhains Colony’. In Dadu district, protests were reported in Dadu city, Johi, Faridabad, Kakkar and KN Shah. A large number of political and human rights activists took to the roads in Hyderabad, the second largest city of the province. Just on the other side of Indus River, Jamshoro also looked enraged over the incident. In Khairpur district, almost all towns witnessed protests against the killing. In neighboring districts like Sukkur, Shikarpur, Ghotki, Kashmore, there were reports of condemnation and subsequent protests. Ranjhani’s party—JST—claimed he was shot in cold blood by Raheem Shah in Bhains Colony, a neighborhood in the Shah Latif Town area adjacent to the National Highway. Ranjhani was allegedly shot twice by Rahim. But still, he was alive when the police took him to Shah Latif police station rather than to the hospital. The party alleged he was shot eight more times by the police. Ranjhani’s family settled in Karachi’s Korangi area claimed that he lived in Dubai and had only recently come to Pakistan to visit them. He was in Dadu till Sunday, after which he had returned to his home in Korangi, Karachi. However, the police said the alleged shooter Raheem Shah had withdrawn cash from the bank. He was intercepted on National Highway by two men, among them one was Ranjhani. They showed Raheem a pistol and asked for the cash. Rahim Shah, the police reported, fired on them from inside the car in self-defense. The accomplice of Ranjhani ran away riding the motorbike. Police’s account is based on the statement of Rahim Shah as the former reached the crime scene an hour after the incident. There are witnesses to the whole incident as it happened in a public space and in broad daylight, a police officer told media. Meanwhile, civil society activists took to social media, using the hashtag #JusticeForIrshadRanjhani and posted videos showing Raheem Shah shooting Ranjhani in front of a crowd. The role of police has come in question as the political activists and the heirs of the victim point fingers at the Shah Latif station house officer and the Bin Qasim Town deputy superintendent of police. The incident has sent shock waves in the province where social media networking has given a new shape to activism and rights movement. Sindh CM orders judicial inquiry into Irshad Ranjhani murder case The mounting pressure forced Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to order a judicial inquiry into the murder. The chief minister directed Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah to write a letter to Registrar Sindh High Court with the request to conduct a judicial inquiry into the murder of Irshad Ranjhani. “We can’t allow anybody to take the law into his hand,” he said. Earlier, the Chief Minister directed IG Police Dr. Kaleem Imam to conduct an inquiry by a senior police officer into the murder case. Shah said the government cannot allow anybody to establish a state within the state and take the gun in his hand, terming a person as a dacoit and kill him. For more stories please visit: https://www.facebook.com/indus.chronicle.mag/

Afghan President expresses concerns about violence against protesters and civil activists in KP, Balochistan; Mind your own business: Pakistan

ICMD, Feb 7, 2019 Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has expressed his government’s serious concerns about what he sees as “the violence perpetrated against peaceful protesters and civil activists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan”. Uneasiness between Afghanistan and Pakistan was rekindled after the arrests of a group of ethnic Pashtun activists and the Afghan President choosing to have a say in the matter. The protests were followed by the death of a regional leader Arman Loni, who the protestors allege was singled out and murdered by the police. Police maintain that the deceased died of a heart attack during clashes. This, in return, has prompted a loud and stern response by the Afghan President, who himself is a Pashtun. Current tensions have surfaced at a time when Pakistan has been supporting efforts to open a peace process with the Taliban to end more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan. The Afghan President has also tweeted: “We believe it is the moral responsibility of every government to support civil activities that take a stand against the terrorism and extremism that plagues and threatens our region and collective security. Otherwise, there could be long-standing negative consequences.” Speaking about the arrests of protestors in Pakistan, Rights group Amnesty International issued a statement saying authorities “must immediately and unconditionally release protesters belonging to the peaceful Pashtun Tahafuz Movement.” PTM leader Ali Wazir has claimed that 18 activists were still in custody after one of those detained was released this week. Another PTM leader, Mohsin Dawar thanked the Afghan President for his statement. Both leaders are elected public representatives from the Pashtun majority Waziristan region next to Afghanistan. Mind your own business: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s statement regarding alleged violence against protesters in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan provinces. In a scathing reply to Ghani’s tweet, Qureshi termed the “irresponsible statements” a “gross interference” on the Afghan president’s part. The foreign minister reminded the Afghan leadership “to focus on long-standing serious grievances of the Afghan people.” Earlier in the day, Ghani tweeted against “violence” against “peaceful protestors”. The Afghan president’s tweet also drew a strong reaction from former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar. “[It] [is] Sad [that] Ashraf Ghani would think it appropriate to comment on what is clearly an internal matter for Pakistan,” she said in a tweet. “Baloch, Pashtun, Saraiki, Punjabi & Sindhi are Pakistanis and we certainly need to fix many things but am sure you know that your comments can only worsen situation not help it. [I] am quite sure as President of Afghanistan it must never be your intention to worsen a situation in Pakistan. We will all be well served to ‘concern’ ourselves with matters within our own borders. Our people will also be better served if we concentrate on fixing wrongs within our borders.”

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Aleem Khan taken into custody by NAB, he appears unable to show his money trail

ICMD, Feb 6, 2019 The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) took senior Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Aleem Khan who is also a Punjab minister into custody in Lahore on Wednesday. A communication issued by NAB Lahore said Khan was arrested for owning assets beyond his known sources of income. Aleem Khan is faced with multiple inquiries. They include one relating to an offshore company Hexam Investment Overseas Ltd, the other for owning assets beyond his known sources of income, and also inquiries into his involvement in the Park View Housing Society, River Age Housing Society, and Multan Road. Khan is alleged to have misused his authority as general secretary of the Park View Housing Society. He abused his power as a member provincial assembly for acquiring assets beyond his known sources of income. Aleem who had been summoned today reportedly unable to satisfy NAB officials on money trail for his assets during a two-hour questioning.

Taliban demand new constitution for Afghanistan at Moscow talks, Delegates urge Taliban to join intra-Afghan dialogue, declare ceasefire

ICMD, Feb 5, 2019 The Taliban demanded a new constitution for Afghanistan and promised an ‘inclusive Islamic system’ to govern the war-torn country at a rare gathering with senior Afghan politicians in Russia on Tuesday that excluded the Kabul government. The Taliban’s manifesto, outlined in Moscow before some of Afghanistan’s most influential leaders, comes a week after the Taliban held unprecedented six-day talks with US negotiators in Doha about ending the 17-year war. The Doha and Moscow discussions, though entirely separate, both excluded the government in Kabul, where President Ashraf Ghani is seen as increasingly sidelined from key negotiations for peace in his country. The Moscow meeting – the Taliban’s most significant with Afghan politicians in recent memory – saw them praying together with sworn enemies including former president Hamid Karzai as they discussed their vision for the future. “The Kabul government constitution is invalid. It has been imported from the West and is an obstacle to peace,” Sher Abbas Stanikzai, who headed the Taliban delegation, told attendees at a central Moscow hotel. “It is conflicted. We want an Islamic constitution,” he said, adding that the new charter would be drafted by Islamic scholars. Taliban’s chief negotiator said they do not intend to monopolize power after an end to foreign invasion but want to establish an Afghan inclusive Islamic system with the consent of all Afghans. He said the Taliban and the US will form two joint committees to finalize drafts for the withdrawal of foreign troops and to prevent Afghanistan from being used against other countries. The committees will start work in the coming days, he said. “It is responsibility of all the Afghans to end foreign invasion,” Stanekzai said, adding, “War has been imposed on the Afghan nation and the Islamic Emirate as their country has been invaded and the invaders have toppled an Islamic sovereign system. All causes for war should first be removed.” A Taliban spokesman also released Pashto version of Stanekzai’s speech to the media. Karzai and other Afghan leaders were confident that the Moscow siting will pave the way for start of an intra-Afghan dialogue. A 10-member Taliban delegation is attending the conference which will continue also on Wednesday. Karzai’s list includes 38 delegates while several other prominent leaders are also among the participants. Stanekzai called for some preliminary steps that he said are essential for peace and are parts of confidence building measures. He demanded removal of the UN Security Council’s sanctions list, arguing that peace negotiations and sanctions list are two contradictory concepts and can’t go side by side. “It is therefore required that these baseless sanctions and reward lists, which are used as a pressure tool for their interests, should be finished so that representatives of the Islamic Emirate are able to participate in peace talks in different places without any hurdle,” he said. He called for the release of Taliban detainees and claimed that US and its protectorate regime have detained tens of thousands of Afghans and Taliban in their secret and open prisons. He also demanded formal opening of the Taliban political office, which was closed days after its opening in 2013 when former president Karzai raised objections. “Venue for negotiations and a communication site in the shape of an office is necessary for peace,” he said, adding at present the Taliban have no open and formal address as a venue for negotiations which is a preliminary requirement. The Taliban leader also called for guarantors as he argued peace process needs guarantees, as without this, the provisions of the peace agreements could not be properly implemented. “Therefore, the United Nations, major powers, members of the Islamic Conference and facilitating countries must guarantee implementations of the agreements,” he said. He also promised to stamp out Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation and take steps to prevent civilian casualties in a conflict that has killed and wounded hundreds of thousands. Several delegates urged the Taliban to start talks with the Afghan government as intra-Afghan dialogue is the best option to end the conflict. Former president Hamid Karzai threw weight behind the ongoing talks between the Taliban and US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. He said Afghanistan wants good relations with all countries but will not allow anyone to interfere in Afghan affairs. Former vice president Yunus Qanooni told the conference that the current Islamic Republic system in Afghanistan is at the request of all Afghans and that it has been established on the back of sacrifices of millions of Afghans, according to Tolo News. He said the system in Afghanistan was established based on the will of the Afghan people and the constitution is one of the best in the region and that amendments to the constitution can be done only through legal channels. Addressing the meeting, Hizb-e-Wahdat leader Mohammad Mohaqiq called on the Taliban to show ‘flexibility’ in holding face-to-face talks with Afghan government representatives, according to Afghan media. Several delegates urged the Taliban to start talks with the government and also declare ceasefire in view of the peace talks in Qatar. “I think all sides are ready for a compromise. It is a good start,” said Ghulam Jalal, the head of an Afghan diaspora group who hosted the meeting. Two women also attended the roundtable conference. Frozen out for a second time, a furious Ghani, however, vowed he would not be an idle spectator as his country’s future was debated abroad. “Even if I have one drop of blood in my body, I am not going to surrender to a temporary peace deal,” he railed in a speech Sunday. Amrullah Saleh, a Ghani ally, accused those Afghan leaders travelling to Moscow for the Taliban talks – including former president Hamid Karzai – of ‘begging to terrorists’. “A smile to the enemy is a blow to the national spirit,” Saleh said. “We appreciate the efforts, but any peace talks about Afghanistan should be under the umbrella of the Afghan government,” Afghanistan’s de facto prime minister Abdullah Abdullah said after the Doha talks. The Taliban have always refused to break bread with Ghani and Kabul, who they view as US stooges. “The talks in Moscow would see an opening of channels to reaching an understanding with Afghan leaders outside government,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. Such a meeting between the Taliban and Afghan politicians – including Karzai, who was appointed by the US – is almost unheard of. Ghani’s rivals could see an opportunity in these various Taliban talks to undermine his leadership, analysts say, ahead of presidential elections slated for July. The Taliban outreach is also drawing a host of rival powers into its orbit, all keen that any finale to the war suits their strategic ambitions. -- Agencies/MD