We Have Your Words – 1

lahoreagainsttaliban-irfanmufti

Lahore, January 16, 2015. Photo from Irfan Mufti

Since we published our first installment of ‘We have your Words‘ last week containing the first 30 comments on the Secular Pakistan Petition, there were strong demonstrations of solidarity by Pakistanis around the World with Peshawar, Charlie Hebdo, and against all religious/sectarian violence. The slogans such as ‘Pakistan Against Terrorism’, ‘Lahore Against Taliban’ and ‘Silence is Criminal’ were raised. Many of us stood against the establishment of Military Courts in Pakistan as not being a solution to the fight against Taliban. We know, the causes lie elsewhere.

Here, your words tell us why. View the next 32 comments on the Petition for a Secular Pakistan.

Talat Afroze
TORONTO, CANADA
29 days ago
‘After several generations of Pakistan’s citizens having suffered from Obscurantism, it is high time that the State stops dictating what religious beliefs Pakistani citizens should nurture ! Leave every Pakistani’s religion alone and give us good governance instead!’

Feroze Jamall
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘The only way forward…’

Anita Kanitz
STUTTGART, GERMANY
29 days ago
“A small change can make a big difference. You are the only one who can make our world a better place to inhabit. So, don’t be afraid to take a stand.” ― Ankita Singhal

Husnain Baig
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘enough is enough’

Kamran Noorani
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I truly believe this is THE solution’

Babar Ayaz
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘Because I strongly believe Pakistan has to be re-imagined as a Secular Democratic Republic to treat its genetic defect’

Sanjar Mirza
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘God created all human beings equal. HE did not create them Muslims, Hindus, Christians. Children adopt the religion of their parents. Islam taught us tolerence, peace and not genocide and murder’

Aref Deen
HYDERABAD, INDIA
29 days ago
‘It’s time to do it.’

Masood K NEEDHAM
MA
29 days ago
‘I believe that a secular state will give full religious rights to all persons of whatever faith or Aqenda they may have. In fact public life is not supposed to interfere in another persons faith which remains a matter of his personal choice and the choice of his co-religionists, as long they are not forcing this choice on others and as long as the State protects this right of religious freedom.’

Anwer Jafri
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘Hi! I just signed the petition “The Government, The Judiciary and the Army of Pakistan: Separate Religion from State, Declare Pakistan to be a Secular Democracy” on Change.org.
‘It’s important. Will you sign it too? Here’s the link:
Change.org
‘Thanks! Anwer’

Aaryan Ramzan
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘Name a successful theocratic state? Name any successful state which is not secular? Enough! Looking at the results and wanting more of the same is simply insanity.’

Faiza Khan
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I support the idea that all citizens of Pakistan be treated equally.’

Wendell Rodricks
COLVALE GOA, INDIA
29 days ago
‘We want our neighbours to have peace and no religious terror’

Tariq Mahmood
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I honestly believe this is the only way to start solving our problems’

Naushervan Beg
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘To save my country’

Salman Kham
MISSISSAUGA, CANADA
29 days ago
‘I’m signing becaus that’s the only way to save Pakistan from perpetual destruction.’

Kausar Bashir
BUENA PARK, CA
29 days ago
‘to declare pakistan a secular state and the word Islamic republic be removed from constitution.’

Abdulrahman Rafiq
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘This is the only way forward. As a nation Pakistan must reacquaint itself with Jinnah Sahab’s vision.’

Sasha Ali
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
29 days ago
‘I believe in the supermacy of human rights and rational thinking.’

Adnan Shah
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘State Religion is the root cause of Patronizing, Promotion, Preach & Practice of “Religionization/ Talibanization” mindset in state as well as non state organizations. in other words “Division, Conflict & discrimination based on religious identity is the logical outcome of state religion.” So Separate Religion from state. No To State Religion’

Farhana Shakir
DUBLIN, IRELAND
29 days ago
‘We want diversity, we want peace for everyone regardless of any religon, faith or NO faith.’

Bilal Farooqi
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘Separation of religion from the State is not only essential for Pakistan’s progress, but for its very existence!’

Arjumand Rahim
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I dream to live in a secular Pakistan that respects and protects every Pakistani irrespective of caste or creed. We are all equal human beings.’

Sheema Kermani
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I think the only way forward for Pakistan is this!’

Wajahat Masood
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I believe that a nation state can only be a secular state.’

Shafi Edwardian
PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘It’s high time we separated religion from the state as was done in Europe lately. But better be late than never.’

Noreen Zehra
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘Nobody’s business (religion) is my business!’

G. M. Lakho
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘”Separate Religion from State!” Yes, but the point is how? The “Secular Pakistan” must come up with clear words by saying “NO TO THE STATE RELIGION” of Pakistan. It must demand repeal of the State Religion from the Constitution of Pakistan. What is the “root cause” of Peshawar tragedy? Our Pak (mis)-rulers have no answer of this question or they have the answer but do not like to share it with public. The Pak Media is not in a mood to discuss the “root cause”. Yet, they are saying parrot-like non-stop that anyone who is not ready to condemn Peshawar tragedy is mentally sick or ally of enemy but “we can’t ignore the root cause of this tragedy”. Thank you for admitting that you can’t ignore the “root cause” of this tragedy. But it is not enough. You should do more. Stop raising dust in the air. The demand of your good faith is to identify this “root cause”. The demand of your honesty is call the “root cause” with its correct name. You must admit in clear words free from the fetters of ifs and buts that the “root cause” of this tragedy is rooted in the Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan and that its name is “State Religion”. If you are sincere in saying that you can’t ignore the “root cause” of this tragedy; then, please take first step and “root” it out from paper, i.e., erase State Religion from the Pak Constitution. How much common sense do you need for saying that the “root cause” of Peshawar tragedy is the State Religion of Pakistan? Just imagine a moment when all good and honest citizens will start to walk on roads with this badge: “SAY NO TO STATE RELIGION”.’ (Earlier published as ‘But the point is how?’ By Ghulam Mustafa Lakho)

Tanvir Khan
NEEDHAM, UNITED STATES
29 days ago
‘This is what I believe.’

Samina Geti
KARACHI, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘There is no religion of state.’

Abdul Hameed Nayyar
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I believe the quest for establishing a religious state in Pakistan has hurt it immensely, and the salvation of the society lies in a secular set up.’

Naveed Butt
LAHORE, PAKISTAN
29 days ago
‘I signed the petition, however there was no reason to address Judiciary and Army. These institutions do not have any role in policy making (or maybe should not have, in Pakistan’s case)’

Thank you.

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‘The Clowns of Blasphemy’ by Fauzia Rafique

Dedicated to the unidentified mentally challenged man accused of desecrating the Quran who was taken from Chanighot police station, tortured and burnt alive by a mob of 1500-2000 religious zealots in Bahawalpur, July 3-4, 2012.

A constant clown of blasphemy
hangs over our heads
conducting this one-act
medieval play. Two three scenes
and a thousand different ways
to slaughter
men
and women
for insulting
their projection
of this entity,
the divinity,
whose man-made aura is then used
to assure
the smooth operation
of the nearest multinational
owned by the authors, directors, producers
and actors
of the Clowns of Blasphemy.
—— A one-act play
—— Boasting a blood-letting theme

Prestigious production
casting heathens
and kafirs, women
and witches, bombers
and terrorists
using real ammunition
emotions and blood, real-life deaths
announcements, pronouncements
bullying and threats. Un
-dying applause
from stunned
-into-submission
audiences. Firearms, rockets
rocks and ropes
expert skinning
hanging by the poles
klashnikov submissions
summary executions
burning with relish humans, books
music and songs
to protect the owners, holders, movers
and shakers
of the Clowns of Blasphemy.
—— A one-act play
—— Weaving a violent dream

Interacting with audiences
it fans the hysteria
to feed the hungry
wild fires
of our worldly
ambitions on the self-righteous
path to secure
for our leaders brand
new riches, collateral
damaging milli-
-ons of civi-
-llians
caught in fireworks
crossfires, revenge fires, suicide-fires
friendly-fires. With 560
army bases
on different
foreign lands, enacting
in its glory
the mafioso cultures of
the red-blood-handed
brown, yellow, black,
white investors of the Clowns of Blasphemy
—— A one-act play
—— Donning a fascist regime
Fauzia Rafique
<a href=”mailto:uddari@live.ca”>uddari@live.ca</a>
<a href=”http://gandholi.wordpress.com”>gandholi.wordpress.com</a&gt;
<a href=”http://facebook.com/fauzia.zohra.rafique”>facebook.com/fauzia.zohra.rafique</a&gt;

First published at Uddari Weblog
http://uddari.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/the-clowns-of-blasphemy-by-fauzia-rafique/
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Blasphemy vendetta: Pakistan 1990-2009

Contributing to the discussion on the lynching deaths of two boys in Sialkot, Nafees Muhammad has put together some of the reported instances of religious intolerance and bigotry that took place in different cities of Pakistan from 1990 to 2009.

The incidents listed below are by no means exhaustive. If you know of another such incident of faith-based violence, please, add it to the list via comments to this post.

Violence and vendetta against non-Muslims and assumed non-Muslims is escalating. There were 13 incidents reported from 1990 to 1999 and 25 from 2000 to 2009. 2010 may be the worst year of all.

Mourning the Sialkot Killings
By Nafees Muhammad

Indeed, it was a highly condemnable and deplorable act of crime against two young boys in Sialkot. I know the media has been very positively covering this incident and there is a chance the culprits may be apprehended one day, tried, and punished. A matter of concern for me is that this event is mostly being reviewed and analyzed in isolation from other similar acts of lynchings against the suspected robbers and those who belonged to a minority community and were blamed for committing blasphemous act.

When a Hindu worker of a mill was lynched by a mob in Karachi a few years ago, his family and the whole community was scared of facing a similar act against them and there was no media coverage about their miseries. Likewise, the Gojra incident wherein 7 or 8 Christians were burnt alive remain a dead issue for the court and the media.

All those who talked about and wrote about the present event of lynching of these two boys missed to say a few words about those people. Why? Wasn’t that a similar act of lynching? Those who think that lynching of a person belonging to different faith, ethnic group, or nationality is ignorable, one day may have to face the same crime themselves. Now Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) activists are enraged and willing to attack the family members of those who were involved in the Sialkot incident, but we all know how they all supported the culprits of Gojra incident.

Following is a list of the blasphemy incidents that have been committed in the name of religion in this country from 1990 to 2009.

2009
SAHIWAL, Sept 6
Timely intervention averted a Gojra-like tragedy in a Chichawatni village 8/11-L on Sunday after representatives of Christian and Muslim faiths, with the assistance of inter-faith activists and police, thwarted the nefarious designs of unscrupulous elements.
KASUR, Sept 5
Phoolnagar Sadar police registered a blasphemy case against an alleged faith healer and his six disciples under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) following a protest of hundreds of people in Jambar Kalan on Multan Road on Saturday. Residents of Jamber Kalan continued their protest on the second day for the registration of a blasphemy case and threw traffic on Multan Road out of gear for quite some time.
KASUR, Aug 20
A prominent sect of Muslims on Thursday took to the street agitating alleged blasphemy by some representatives of the rival sect. More than 100 agitators blocked Bhasarpura Road by placing burnt tyres and demanded that the police register a case under blasphemy law against their rivals who, they alleged, broke a marble slab inscribed with ‘Darood Sharif’ at the main gate of Gulzar-i-Medina Masjid in Ayub Town.
SHEIKHUPURA/LAHORE, Aug 4
Two people were killed when a mob of hundreds of people, including factory workers, attacked a leather processing unit near Muridke on Tuesday over alleged desecration of Quranic verses. Leather unit owner Sheikh Najeeb Zafar is among the dead. At least 24 assailants were apprehended in a late-night development.
Sanghar, August 5
An angry mob attacked the house of an elderly woman in District Sanghar, Sindh, accusing her of desecrating the Holy Quran. A case has not yet been registered but the District Bar Association assured the mob that if the woman – identified as Akhtari Malkani – is found guilty, she will be charged under the Blasphemy Law.
Gojra, August 1
Seven people were burnt alive and 18 others injured in Gojra, District Toba Tek Singh in Punjab after fresh violence erupted in the town over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran three days ago. More than 50 houses were set on fire.
Azafi Abadi, July 31
A mob burnt 75 houses of members of the Christian community over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran in the village Azafi Abadi at Gojra-Faisalabad Road. Seventy-five houses and two churches were burnt by the residents of a neighbouring village.
Layyah, February
Five Ahmadis in Punjab’s Layyah district were arrested on charges of writing blasphemous remarks in the toilets of Kot Sultan’s Gulzar-e-Madina mosque. No evidence or witness was presented. They were just detained on a ‘presumption of guilt,’ stated the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

2008
Karachi, April 8
Jagdesh Kumar, a 27 year old Hindu worker, was beaten to death by fellow Muslim workers in his factory in Karachi on the charge of blasphemy. The incident took place in the presence of policemen. Some reports suggested that the victim was in love with a Muslim girl that angered the Muslim workers, who decided to teach him a lesson.
Khanewal, March 6
An elderly man, Altaf Hussain, was arrested for desecrating the Holy Quran in Kabir wala Town of Khanewal District in Punjab. The spokesman for the Ahmadiya community countered that the charges against the 80-year-old were false.

2007
Faisalabad, October 28
The police arrested Muhammad Imran of Faisalabad for allegedly setting the Holy Quran on fire. He was kept in a torture cell for three days and later in solitary confinement without anyone attending to his injuries. He was released in April 2009.
Islamabad, May 17
The nursing school at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad was shut down and seven Christian staff members suspended after female students of Jamia Hafsa protested over allegations that blasphemy had been committed at the school. Rumours spread that verses from the Quran posted on a wall had been defaced. School authorities denied all such claims. Christians lost their jobs.
Kotri, April 13
Sattar Masih, a 29-year-old worker at a water pumping station in Kotri city of Sindh, was allegedly attacked by Muslim extremists for uttering blasphemous remarks. An imam of a local mosque, Maulvi Umer, announced some written papers against Prophet Mohammad were found outside the mosque authored by Sattar. Muslim worshipers attacked Masih’s house and tried to kill him but the police arrived before it could happen. Masih was later arrested. Later, in January 2009, the accusation was declared baseless.
Toba Tek Singh, April 1
A case against Salamat Masih, 45, and four other Christians was filed for the desecration of Islamic posters and stickers containing the name of Allah, Prophet Mohammad and other Islamic verses in the Toba Tek Singh (Punjab) police station. The SHO allegedly converted the report into an FIR within 20 minutes without initiating any investigation. Subsequently, 80 young Muslims from the neighbourhood ransacked the houses of Christians in the colony.
Kasur, January 22
Martha Bibi, a Christian woman from Kot Nanak Singh, District Kasur, was accused of making derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad and defaming his sacred name.

2006
September 21
Shahid Masih, 17, was jailed on suspicion of ripping book pages containing Quranic verses in Punjab.
Karachi, May 24
A Christian, Qamar David, was arrested from Karachi for allegedly sending blasphemous messages to some Muslims via cell phone as revenge for attacks against churches by Muslims in Sukkur, Sindh, and Sangla Hill, Punjab, earlier that year.

2005
Lahore, December 23
Five members of the Mehdi Foundation International were arrested in Wapda Town, Lahore, for putting up posters of their leader Riaz Gohar Shahi showing him as ‘Imam Mehdi’. The Anti-Terrorism Court sentenced each to five years of imprisonment under 295-A of PPC. Their prisoners’ records posted outside the cell falsely indicate that they had been sentenced under 295-C – the Blasphemy Law.
Sangla Hill, November 12
After receiving frequent death threats, Parvez Aslam Chaudhry, a lawyer who defended many accused for blasphemy, was allegedly charged with flinging a burning matchstick on an Islamic school in the Sangla Hill stadium in Punjab which caught fire. Chaudhry was also physically assaulted outside Lahore High Court.
August 11
Judge Arshad Noor Khan of the Anti-Terrorist Court found Younus Shaikh guilty of defiling a copy of the Quran, and propagating religious hatred among society. Shaikh was convicted because he wrote a book ‘Shaitan Maulvi’ (Satanic Cleric) in which he mentioned stoning to death as a punishment for adultery was not mentioned in the Quran. The judge imposed a fine of Rs100, 000 rupees and sentenced him to lifetime imprisonment.

2003
Lahore, November 20
Anwar Masih, a Christian labourer and resident of Shahdara, Lahore, was charged for insulting the Prophet in front of his neighbour. Masih had converted from Islam to Christianity. He was acquitted by the Lahore High Court in December 2004. Later, in August 2007, he lost his job in a factory when his employer was threatened for employing a ‘blasphemer’. Masih went into hiding.
Peshawar, July 09
A journalist in the NWFP was sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy. Munawar Mohsin, a sub-editor at the Frontier Post newspaper, was convicted of publishing a blasphemous letter in the editorial section that led to violent protests across the country.

2002
Lahore, July 18
Additional sessions judge in Lahore imposed death penalty and a fine of Rs500,000 on Anwar Kenneth, a former officer of the Fisheries Department, in a blasphemy case registered with the Gawalmandi police. He was arrested on June 15, 2001, while distributing a pamphlet (Gospel of Jesus).
Lahore, June 11
A 55-year-old Muslim cleric, Mohammed Yousaf Ali, convicted of blasphemy was shot dead in the Lahore prison. The murderer was another prisoner, Tariq Mota, a member the banned Sunni militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba. Ali had been sentenced to death for blasphemy on August 5, 2000, in a case filed by another militant group who disapproved of his religious views. Ali had been vocal in condemning religious extremism.
Islamabad, October
Pakistani authorities charged Younus Shaikh, a teacher at a medical college in Islamabad, with blasphemy on account of remarks that students claimed he made during a lecture. The students alleged that Shaikh had said Prophet Mohammed’s parents were non-Muslims because they died before Islam existed. A judge ordered that Shaikh pay a fine of Rs100,000, and be hanged. In November 2003 he was acquitted after which he left Pakistan.

1998
Sahiwal, May 6
Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph of Pakistan shot himself in the Sahiwal courthouse to highlight the case of Ayub Masih, a Christian sentenced to death for allegedly uttering blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad. The death of the 66-year-old led to protests by Christians. Subsequently, the Lahore High Court ordered a stay of execution for Masih. His fate remains undecided.

1997
Lahore, October 19
Judge Arif Iqbal Hussain Bhatti was assassinated in his Lahore office after acquitting two people who were accused of blasphemy.

1996
Lahore, October 14
Ayub Masih, a Pakistani Christian bricklayer, was arrested for violation of Section 295-C. The complaint was filed by Masih’s neighbour who claimed that Masih had invited them to accept Christianity and recommended that they read Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. He later made legal history when his appeal against the death penalty was turned down by the High Court in 2002.

1995
Lahore, July
Catherine Shaheen, a teacher in Lahore, Punjab, was denied her salary on grounds of blasphemy. Since then she has been in hiding because of threats against her life made by some fundamentalists.

1993
Mianwali, November 21
Riaz Ahmad, his son, and two nephews from the Ahmadi community were arrested in Mianwali District for their blasphemous remarks. The rivalry over Ahmad’s position as village headman was the real motivation for the complaint against him. The Sessions Court rejected the bail applications of the accused, however, the Supreme Court granted him bail in December 1997.
Gujranwala, May
Twelve-year-old Salamat Masih, Manzoor Masih, 37, and Rehmat Masih, 42, were charged with writing derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed on the wall of a mosque in Ratta Dhotran village of district Gujranwala – where they lived. All the three were in fact illiterate and did not know how to write.
Samundri, February
Anwar Masih, a Christian from Samundri in Punjab, went to jail upon a Muslim shopkeeper’s allegation that, during an argument over money, Masih had insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

1992
Punjab, November
Gul Masih, a Christian, was sentenced to death after having remarked to his Muslim neighbour in Punjab that he had read that ‘Prophet Mohammed had 11 wives, including a minor.’
Lahore,
Bantu Masih, 80, and Mukhtar Masih, 50, were arrested on the allegation of committing blasphemy. Both died in the Lahore police station. Bantu Masih was stabbed eight times by a fundamentalist in the presence of policemen. He later succumbed to his injuries, whereas Mukhtar Masih was tortured to death in police custody.
Faisalabad, January 6
Christian teacher Naimat Ahmar, 43, was butchered by a young member of a militant religious group, Farooq Ahmad, on the office premises of the District Education Officer in Faisalabad while on duty. Ahmad killed him because the deceased had reportedly used highly insulting remarks against Islam and Prophet Mohammed and by killing a blasphemer he had won his way into heaven. No case of blasphemy was registered against him nor was he tried by any court. Ahmar left behind a widow and four children.

1991
Faisalabad, December 10
Gul Masih of Faisalabad was charged for using sacrilegious language about the Prophet and his wives. The complainant, Sajjad Hussain, had a quarrel with him over repair of a street water tap. Masih was sentenced to death by the Sessions Court, Sargodha, on November 02, 1992. Years later he was acquitted but continued to receive death threats. He is now in Germany on asylum.
Karachi, October 8
Chand Barkat, 28, a bangle stall holder in Karachi, was charged with blasphemy by another bangle vendor, Arif Hussain, because of professional jealousy. Hussain decided to teach Barkat a lesson by accusing him of using derogatory language against Prophet Mohammed and his mother. Barkat was charged under section 295-C of PPC, however, he was acquitted by the Sessions Court for want of evidence.

1990
Lahore, December 7
Tahir Iqbal, a Christian convert from Islam and resident of Lahore, was accused of abusing Prophet Mohammad at the time of Azaan and imparting anti-Islamic education to children during tuitions. The sessions judge in July 1991 turned down his bail application after he learnt that Iqbal had converted to Christianity, which, he stated, was a cognisable offence. Later on July 21, 1992, before Iqbal’s defence lawyer could appear in court, he was poisoned in police custody.

Contributed by Muhammad Nafees (mohammad.nafees@yahoo.com) to CMKP Digest #2231.

Firs published at Uddari Weblog
http://uddari.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/blasphemy-vendetta-pakistan-1990-2009/
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Urgent Appeal: Release Sarabjit Singh from Pakistani Jail

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-154-2011
7 September 2011

Send Appeal letter

PAKISTAN: Release Sarabjit Singh who has now spent 21 years in a death cell due to an unfair trial in a case of mistaken identity
ISSUES: Death sentence; fair trial; miscarriage of justice; right to life; torture

Dear friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that an Indian citizen has just completed his 21st year in a death cell in Lahore. He was the victim of the India centric policies of the government of Pakistan and was denied proper justice by the courts. From the very beginning his case was mislead by the prosecution, Intelligence agencies and the courts with a peculiar mindset that the accused person was an Indian citizen. His appeal of clemency has been pending before the president for three years and because of the pressure from Muslim religious groups and anti-India lobby the government is hesitant to pardon his death sentence. The Supreme Court in haste upheld the decision of the lower courts for his execution through an ex-parte decision, without listening to the applicant.

The case of Sarbajit Singh is an example of a miscarriage of justice where mistaken identity was made as the sole evidence of his punishment. The victim’s name was Sarabjit Singh but he was sentenced to death in the name of Manjeet Singh. The sole eye witness of the case told different television channels that he was forced through coercion and intimidation to give evidence against the victim by the officials of the intelligence agency, the ISI.

It is said that government has shown its willingness to release him but is waiting for the exchange of Pakistani prisoners from Indian side through the successful diplomatic dialogues between both the countries.

Mr. Awais Sheikh, the victim’s lawyer, has compiled a book on the details of the legal flaws and the absence of proper investigation in the case of Sarabjit Singh under the title: ”A case of mistaken identity of Sarabjit Singh”. It is being published in London and is due for release within the next couple of months.

CASE NARRATIVE
Sarabjit Singh, the son of Sulakhan Singh, a farmer by profession, was a resident of Bhikhiwind village, five miles from the Pakistani border and forty kilometers from Amritsar, Punjab, India. He had illegally crossed the Indian border at Qasoor, the border city of Punjab, Pakistan, in the late hours of August 29 and 30, 1990, in a drunken condition. In those days there was no barbed wire barrier between the Indian and Pakistani borders, however, there were check posts all around and there was also a no man’s land between the borders themselves. At that time he was 28 years of age. He was arrested at the Pakistani check post by the officials of Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and kept in their custody for nine days before being produced in court. He was eventually produced before the judicial magistrate in one First Information Report (FIR), a police case, in the name of Manjeet Singh son of Mohanga Singh for conducting four bomb blasts in the three cities of Punjab province namely, Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad on July 29, 1990, killing 14 persons. Before his production in court, Sarabjit was told by the ISI personnel that he would be charged for illegally entering Pakistan. He was allegedly implicated in the bomb blast which occurred one month before he crossed the Indian border and entered in to Pakistani area. His statement under section 342 of Pakistan Penal Code was taken where he denied the charges and recorded that he is not the Manjeet Singh whose name was mentioned in the FIR. In his confessional statement he refused all allegations mentioned in the FIR and said that the real accused person, Mnajeet Singh, was arrested by the agencies and was released and allowed to run away but that he was falsely implicated in the case.

He was tried in a Special Court on terrorism charges. During the trial he informed the court that he was not the Manjeet Singh mentioned in the FIR and that his name was Sarabjit Singh, the son of Sulakhan Singh. However, he was told by the magistrate that his name is mentioned as Manjeet Singh alias Sarabjit Singh son of Mohanga Singh. He also informed the court that his father’s name is Salukhan Singh but this was not given any weight by the court. The trial court awarded him the death sentence under section of 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of Pakistan Penal Code and section 3 of explosive substance on August 15, 1991, a significant day as it is the day of independence of India.

The sole eye witness of the bomb blasts in Lahore, Mr. Saleem Shoukat, said in an interview with Indian television channels in September 2005, that he was tortured to give evidence against the Sarabjit leading to his conviction. He was told by the prosecution lawyer that he should identify Sarabjit as the main accused in the serial blasts and he had to do that. He admitted that he had not seen the accused as he had fainted during the blasts.

Sarabjit Singh, according to the petition of reconsideration filed in the Supreme Court on March 2011, strongly agitated that he has been substituted as Manjit Singh with mala-fide intention. He has been made a victim of false identification.

Sarabjit says that when he was given the death sentence by the trial court on the Independence Day of his country his hands were bound and he was blindfolded. Furthermore, when he was sent to jail after sentencing the inmates beat him as a gesture of welcoming his sentence.

According to the Hindustan Times, an Indian daily newspaper with a large circulation, in a article dated December 7, 2010, Sarbjit Singh commented about his trial in a letter written in Hindi in which he states: “However, with the help of deceit and lies finally I was made Manjeet Singh by Pakistan and was convicted in the bomb blast case”.

During the trial he could not have a lawyer because he did not have any money with him and his family did not know where he was. Also, the court totally ignored the basic requirement of justice and failed to provide with a lawyer.

His appeal against the decision of the trial court was turned down by the Lahore high court on December 10, 2001. The Supreme Court also quashed his appeal in September 2005, saying that the review petition was not filed within the time period as mentioned in the Law. Another review petition was filed in the Supreme Court which was dismissed in haste by the court in 2009. The two member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Fayyaz Ahmed, issued notice for the hearing on June 10, 2009 and when the lawyer was not there the next date was fixed for June 26. As the lawyer was busy in another court the bench dismissed the appeal and the decision was made ex-parte. Rana Abdul Hamid, the lawyer who was representing Sarabjit, told media persons after the verdict, “I could not be present in the court as I am a government lawyer. Another lawyer, who was to represent him, was in some other court and before he could have reached there the petition was dismissed.”

Again, the lawyer filed a ‘reconsideration appeal’ before the Supreme Court but the registrar of the court refused to entertain the application as it was not maintainable.

During those days a new development occurred when an Indian citizen, Kashmir Singh, was released after 20 years of his imprisonment in Pakistani jails by the efforts of a prominent human rights activist, Mr. Ansar Burney, former federal minister of human rights in the cabinet of General Musharraf. When Kashmir Singh went to India he declared that he was an Indian agent in Pakistan and was sent by the Indian intelligence agency, the RAW.

Kashmir Singh’s revelation completely destroyed Sarabjit Singh’s case and there was a move from religious and anti-India parties to hang him immediately and not to commute his death sentence. General Musharraf’s government fixed his execution for April 30, 2008 and issued the black warrant. However, because of pressure from human rights bodies, India and other international organizations, General Musharraf deferred his execution for a further 30 days. This was done so that the Pakistan People’s Party-led government, which had just assumed power at the time, could review his case following India’s appeal for clemency. Since that time the government of Zardari-Gilani has stopped the execution in general for indefinite period.

To date his mercy petition is lying before the president of Pakistan and he currently lives in a four by six feet room known as a death cell. He had been there since 1991 and wears ankle chains and at all times. He is allowed a period of one hour for exercise daily and this is the only time he sees the outside world. His health has deteriorated and at present his eye sight is weak and he cannot walk properly due to infections in both legs.

Mr. Awais Sheikh, a human rights lawyer and chairperson of Peace Initiative between India and Pakistan, has taken his case after the rejection of the mercy appeal from the Supreme Court in 2008. He visited the village of Sarabjit Singh in Amritsar, India, and collected information about him and Manjit Singh, allegedly the culprit of bomb blasts of 1990. He has been able to arrange two meetings in Pakistan with family members including his sister, wife and children.

Mr. Sheikh filed first mercy petition to the president of Pakistan on behalf of Sarabjit Singh in July 2009, the second one on February 14, 2010 and third and last on April 4, 2011 when the alleged culprit, Manjeet Singh was arrested in India on charges of cheating. Mr. Sheikh went to India and collected more information about Manjit Singh including his regular visits to Pakistan during the bomb blasts in 1990, his identification by ration card and his arrest in Canada after bomb blasts. He submitted all this information in the third and last mercy petition before the president of Pakistan.

No reply or acknowledgement from president house he has received yet.

He also filed a new application in the Supreme Court for reopening the case on March 6, 2011 after taking all evidences of involvement of Manjit Singh whose name was mentioned in the original FIR. This information also forwarded to President Zardari but, once again, no action has been yet taken to investigate the case.

Mr. Awais Sheikh was also persecuted by the media and the anti-India lobby as a traitor and anti- Pakistan for helping Sarabjit Singh. He was asked to vacate his office by his landlord under pressure from the anti-India lobby and once his office was ransacked.

More than 100,000 persons from India including, prominent Muslim leaders, intellectuals, high profile personalities from the film industry, lawyers and activists of civil society, signed a petition for the release of Surabjit. The signatures were sent to president of Pakistan.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
When Sarabjit was arrested on entering Pakistan illegally by crossing the Indian border, during those days Pakistan was under pressure from the international community to wind up its policy for the establishment of Khalistan, a Sikh based independent state in India. In the late 1980’s during the period of military dictator, General Zia ul Haq, Pakistan was accused of running training camps for Sikh militants in Pakistan and establishing a Sikh state inside the India. With the change of the governments in Pakistan the policies were also changed in context to India and Sikhs, like Sarabjit, were arrested in Pakistan on various charges including on spying and terrorism.

In the early 90s there was high tension and threats of war between India and Pakistan after winding up the policy for creating Khalistan. There was suddenly an increase in the terrorist attacks witnessed in Indian held Kashmir by Jihadi groups from Pakistan and India accused Pakistan of involvement. Meanwhile, after this policy was also adopted in India hundreds of Pakistanis, with their family members, were arrested as Pakistani agents. It is largely because of this that the decision of the trial court to award the death sentence to Sarabjit Singh was generally welcomed in Pakistan and no one took the notice of unfair trial.

CONCERNING MANJIT SINGH
Manjit Singh operates under many aliases and was arrested in London and Canada for cheating, fraud and murder. His name was mentioned in the first information report (FIR) of four bomb blasts in three districts of Punjab province but after the arrest of Sarabjit Singh his name was amended in FIR with Manjit Singh alias Sarabjit Singh son of Mohanga Singh. According to the National Post of Canada, he is known as Manjit Singh Ratu, Manjit Singh aka (alias) Mumtaz Sharif Ratu, aka Mohammad Ratu, an Indian national and Punjabi journalist. He faced charges of fraud, terrorism, assassination and espionage.

Punjab Newsline, India, reported on December 17, 2010 that: “…….Manjit Singh Rattu infamous journalist who is wanted in many countries was arrested by Haryana police in a case of fraud registered against him in Panchkula. He lives under different names and is suspected of bomb blasts in Pakistan. The Sarbajit Singh of Bhikiwind was convicted in the name of Manjit Singh. Paper says Manjit Singh Rattu, he is also known a number of names – Manjit Singh M. Singh, A. Mann Mumtaz Sharif Rattu, Dr. A. S. Sandhu, Dr. M. S. Rattu, Mohammed Sharif Rattu, was some time back arrested near Toranto on two counts of fraud involving over US$ 10,000 by Peel regional police of Canada.”

After his arrest he confessed before the court in India that he had gone to Pakistan in 1983.

It is claimed by the his lawyer and family members that the actual man who did the blasts had visited Pakistan during the case proceedings in the trial court and had married with a Pakistani woman who was the daughter of an government officer and the then chief minister of Pakistan Punjab province had also attended his marriage but because of his marriage with the government officer’s daughter the authorities overlooked the identity of the groom.

The lawyer of Sarabjit Singh, Mr. Sheikh, informed the Supreme Court through his application for reconsideration of death sentence on March 6, 2011 that Manjeet Singh is an international swindler and is a member of an criminal syndicate. He is the real culprit behind the blasts in Pakistan. In 1990 when the bomb blasts took place the Manjeet Singh was present in Pakistan. The lawyer has attached evidence about proof of presence of Manjit Singh in Pakistan at the time of the blasts, his involvement in fraud and murder cases, his mysterious/suspicious activities in Pakistan and the affidavit of Syed Islam Shah (retired) deputy controller of Radio Pakistan confirming his meeting with Manjit Singh in 1990 with his application for reconsideration of the case.

The lawyer also attached the report Canadian police officer confirming his arrest on charges of murder and fraud cases in Canada and record of record published in international media.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The federal cabinet decided on July 2, 2008 to commute the death sentence. However, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan has also announced that death sentences will be commuted in his first press conference after taking the oath of president ship. The prime minister also announced on June 21, 2008, that death sentences will be commuted to life imprisonment but he has failed to issue the notification.

In Pakistan more than 7,500 persons have been on death row for many years, among them are 42 women and two children. The former prime minister and founder of ruling party, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, also commuted the death sentence during his government but was nevertheless hanged by the then military rulers. The wife of the president Asif Zardari and former Prime Minister, Ms. Benazir Bhutto has pledged several times to abolish the death sentences.

Please see the attachment of evidences
Criminal Review Petition:
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/pdf/review petition.pdf

News clippings about Manjit Singh:
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/pdf/Sarabjit-news-1.pdf
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/pdf/Sarabjit-news-2.pdf

Affidavit from Muhammad Islam Shah, former Deputy Controller, Radio Pakistan:
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/pdf/affidavit.pdf

SUGGESTED ACTION
Please write the letters to authorities to commute the death sentence of Sarabjit Singh who was sentenced to death on mistaken identity and served 21 years in the death cell. Please urge that he should be released immediately and prosecute all responsible persons who involved him in the bomb blasts. He must be provided medical treatment and compensation for the loss of 21 years of his life.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the concerned UN agencies for their intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:
Send Appeal letter
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Violence by cop at Nairang Art Gallery: Curator attacked for wearing sleeveless

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious alarm and disgust at a policeman ‘raiding’ a renowned art gallery in Lahore

Lahore, August 03: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious alarm and disgust at a policeman ‘raiding’ a renowned art gallery in Lahore, beating the woman curator there and harassing others on the premises.

HRCP said in a statement: “HRCP is appalled by the vigilante actions of the Shadman Police Station House Officer (SHO), who visited the Nairang Art Gallery in Lahore on Tuesday, brutally assaulted the woman curator there, accusing her of running a place of fahashi, and harassed others present at the gallery. The SHO’s merciless beating of a woman is something that cannot be expected of any civilized human being and is all the more revolting because the offender is an officer of a force tasked with protecting people from the sort of excesses he committed. The policeman had no warrants, nor any legal authority to barge into the art gallery like he did along with a police party, which advised the curator to leave the room after her beating rather than intervening to save her from the assault.

Excesses by policemen are hardly an anomaly in Pakistan but since when have policemen assumed responsibility of the Taliban? HRCP sincerely hope that its revulsion and contempt for the policeman’s actions is shared by the Punjab government and hopes that a case would be promptly registered against the offender, and that he would be effectively prosecuted for his repulsive actions. Lack of due punishment for such uniformed vigilantes would only encourage others to follow suit. HRCP also urges the government to make a formal apology to the curator for the actions of a government agent.”

Zohra Yusuf
Chairperson
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‘GETTING BIN LADEN’ by Nicholas Schmidle

For information only.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/08/08/110808fa_fact_schmidle?currentPage=all
A REPORTER AT LARGE
GETTING BIN LADEN
What happened that night in Abbottabad.
By Nicholas Schmidle
AUGUST 8, 2011

Shortly after eleven o’clock on the night of May 1st, two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters lifted off from Jalalabad Air Field, in eastern Afghanistan, and embarked on a covert mission into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Inside the aircraft were twenty-three Navy SEALs from Team Six, which is officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU. A Pakistani-American translator, whom I will call Ahmed, and a dog named Cairo—a Belgian Malinois—were also aboard. It was a moonless evening, and the helicopters’ pilots, wearing night-vision goggles, flew without lights over mountains that straddle the border with Pakistan. Radio communications were kept to a minimum, and an eerie calm settled inside the aircraft.

Fifteen minutes later, the helicopters ducked into an alpine valley and slipped, undetected, into Pakistani airspace. For more than sixty years, Pakistan’s military has maintained a state of high alert against its eastern neighbor, India. Because of this obsession, Pakistan’s “principal air defenses are all pointing east,” Shuja Nawaz, an expert on the Pakistani Army and the author of “Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within,” told me. Senior defense and Administration officials concur with this assessment, but a Pakistani senior military official, whom I reached at his office, in Rawalpindi, disagreed. “No one leaves their borders unattended,” he said. Though he declined to elaborate on the location or orientation of Pakistan’s radars—“It’s not where the radars are or aren’t”—he said that the American infiltration was the result of “technological gaps we have vis-à-vis the U.S.” The Black Hawks, each of which had two pilots and a crewman from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, or the Night Stalkers, had been modified to mask heat, noise, and movement; the copters’ exteriors had sharp, flat angles and were covered with radar-dampening “skin.”

The SEALs’ destination was a house in the small city of Abbottabad, which is about a hundred and twenty miles across the Pakistan border. Situated north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, Abbottabad is in the foothills of the Pir Panjal Range, and is popular in the summertime with families seeking relief from the blistering heat farther south. Founded in 1853 by a British major named James Abbott, the city became the home of a prestigious military academy after the creation of Pakistan, in 1947. According to information gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency, bin Laden was holed up on the third floor of a house in a one-acre compound just off Kakul Road in Bilal Town, a middle-class neighborhood less than a mile from the entrance to the academy. If all went according to plan, the SEALs would drop from the helicopters into the compound, overpower bin Laden’s guards, shoot and kill him at close range, and then take the corpse back to Afghanistan.

The helicopters traversed Mohmand, one of Pakistan’s seven tribal areas, skirted the north of Peshawar, and continued due east. The commander of DEVGRU’s Red Squadron, whom I will call James, sat on the floor, squeezed among ten other SEALs, Ahmed, and Cairo. (The names of all the covert operators mentioned in this story have been changed.) James, a broad-chested man in his late thirties, does not have the lithe swimmer’s frame that one might expect of a SEAL—he is built more like a discus thrower. That night, he wore a shirt and trousers in Desert Digital Camouflage, and carried a silenced Sig Sauer P226 pistol, along with extra ammunition; a CamelBak, for hydration; and gel shots, for endurance. He held a short-barrel, silenced M4 rifle. (Others SEALs had chosen the Heckler & Koch MP7.) A “blowout kit,” for treating field trauma, was tucked into the small of James’s back. Stuffed into one of his pockets was a laminated gridded map of the compound. In another pocket was a booklet with photographs and physical descriptions of the people suspected of being inside. He wore a noise-cancelling headset, which blocked out nearly everything besides his heartbeat.

During the ninety-minute helicopter flight, James and his teammates rehearsed the operation in their heads. Since the autumn of 2001, they had rotated through Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, at a brutal pace. At least three of the SEALs had participated in the sniper operation off the coast of Somalia, in April, 2009, that freed Richard Phillips, the captain of the Maersk Alabama, and left three pirates dead. In October, 2010, a DEVGRU team attempted to rescue Linda Norgrove, a Scottish aid worker who had been kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan by the Taliban. During a raid of a Taliban hideout, a SEAL tossed a grenade at an insurgent, not realizing that Norgrove was nearby. She died from the blast. The mistake haunted the SEALs who had been involved; three of them were subsequently expelled from DEVGRU.

The Abbottabad raid was not DEVGRU’s maiden venture into Pakistan, either. The team had surreptitiously entered the country on ten to twelve previous occasions, according to a special-operations officer who is deeply familiar with the bin Laden raid. Most of those missions were forays into North and South Waziristan, where many military and intelligence analysts had thought that bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders were hiding. (Only one such operation—the September, 2008, raid of Angoor Ada, a village in South Waziristan—has been widely reported.) Abbottabad was, by far, the farthest that DEVGRU had ventured into Pakistani territory. It also represented the team’s first serious attempt since late 2001 at killing “Crankshaft”—the target name that the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, had given bin Laden. Since escaping that winter during a battle in the Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan, bin Laden had defied American efforts to trace him. Indeed, it remains unclear how he ended up living in Abbottabad.

Forty-five minutes after the Black Hawks departed, four MH-47 Chinooks launched from the same runway in Jalalabad. Two of them flew to the border, staying on the Afghan side; the other two proceeded into Pakistan. Deploying four Chinooks was a last-minute decision made after President Barack Obama said he wanted to feel assured that the Americans could “fight their way out of Pakistan.” Twenty-five additional SEALs from DEVGRU, pulled from a squadron stationed in Afghanistan, sat in the Chinooks that remained at the border; this “quick-reaction force” would be called into action only if the mission went seriously wrong. The third and fourth Chinooks were each outfitted with a pair of M134 Miniguns. They followed the Black Hawks’ initial flight path but landed at a predetermined point on a dry riverbed in a wide, unpopulated valley in northwest Pakistan. The nearest house was half a mile away. On the ground, the copters’ rotors were kept whirring while operatives monitored the surrounding hills for encroaching Pakistani helicopters or fighter jets. One of the Chinooks was carrying fuel bladders, in case the other aircraft needed to refill their tanks.
Meanwhile, the two Black Hawks were quickly approaching Abbottabad from the northwest, hiding behind the mountains on the northernmost edge of the city. Then the pilots banked right and went south along a ridge that marks Abbottabad’s eastern perimeter. When those hills tapered off, the pilots curled right again, toward the city center, and made their final approach.

During the next four minutes, the interior of the Black Hawks rustled alive with the metallic cough of rounds being chambered. Mark, a master chief petty officer and the ranking noncommissioned officer on the operation, crouched on one knee beside the open door of the lead helicopter. He and the eleven other SEALs on “helo one,” who were wearing gloves and had on night-vision goggles, were preparing to fast-rope into bin Laden’s yard. They waited for the crew chief to give the signal to throw the rope. But, as the pilot passed over the compound, pulled into a high hover, and began lowering the aircraft, he felt the Black Hawk getting away from him. He sensed that they were going to crash.

One month before the 2008 Presidential election, Obama, then a senator from Illinois, squared off in a debate against John McCain in an arena at Belmont University, in Nashville. A woman in the audience asked Obama if he would be willing to pursue Al Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan, even if that meant invading an ally nation. He replied, “If we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable, or unwilling, to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden. We will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national-security priority.” McCain, who often criticized Obama for his naïveté on foreign-policy matters, characterized the promise as foolish, saying, “I’m not going to telegraph my punches.”

Four months after Obama entered the White House, Leon Panetta, the director of the C.I.A., briefed the President on the agency’s latest programs and initiatives for tracking bin Laden. Obama was unimpressed. In June, 2009, he drafted a memo instructing Panetta to create a “detailed operation plan” for finding the Al Qaeda leader and to “ensure that we have expended every effort.” Most notably, the President intensified the C.I.A.’s classified drone program; there were more missile strikes inside Pakistan during Obama’s first year in office than in George W. Bush’s eight. The terrorists swiftly registered the impact: that July, CBS reported that a recent Al Qaeda communiqué had referred to “brave commanders” who had been “snatched away” and to “so many hidden homes [which] have been levelled.” The document blamed the “very grave” situation on spies who had “spread throughout the land like locusts.” Nevertheless, bin Laden’s trail remained cold.

In August, 2010, Panetta returned to the White House with better news. C.I.A. analysts believed that they had pinpointed bin Laden’s courier, a man in his early thirties named Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti. Kuwaiti drove a white S.U.V. whose spare-tire cover was emblazoned with an image of a white rhino. The C.I.A. began tracking the vehicle. One day, a satellite captured images of the S.U.V. pulling into a large concrete compound in Abbottabad. Agents, determining that Kuwaiti was living there, used aerial surveillance to keep watch on the compound, which consisted of a three-story main house, a guesthouse, and a few outbuildings. They observed that residents of the compound burned their trash, instead of putting it out for collection, and concluded that the compound lacked a phone or an Internet connection. Kuwaiti and his brother came and went, but another man, living on the third floor, never left. When this third individual did venture outside, he stayed behind the compound’s walls. Some analysts speculated that the third man was bin Laden, and the agency dubbed him the Pacer.

Obama, though excited, was not yet prepared to order military action. John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, told me that the President’s advisers began an “interrogation of the data, to see if, by that interrogation, you’re going to disprove the theory that bin Laden was there.” The C.I.A. intensified its intelligence-collection efforts, and, according to a recent report in the Guardian, a physician working for the agency conducted an immunization drive in Abbottabad, in the hope of acquiring DNA samples from bin Laden’s children. (No one in the compound ultimately received any immunizations.)

In late 2010, Obama ordered Panetta to begin exploring options for a military strike on the compound. Panetta contacted Vice-Admiral Bill McRaven, the SEAL in charge of JSOC. Traditionally, the Army has dominated the special-operations community, but in recent years the SEALs have become a more prominent presence; McRaven’s boss at the time of the raid, Eric Olson—the head of Special Operations Command, or SOCOM—is a Navy admiral who used to be a commander of DEVGRU. In January, 2011, McRaven asked a JSOC official named Brian, who had previously been a DEVGRU deputy commander, to present a raid plan. The next month, Brian, who has the all-American look of a high-school quarterback, moved into an unmarked office on the first floor of the C.I.A.’s printing plant, in Langley, Virginia. Brian covered the walls of the office with topographical maps and satellite images of the Abbottabad compound. He and half a dozen JSOC officers were formally attached to the Pakistan/Afghanistan department of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, but in practice they operated on their own. A senior counterterrorism official who visited the JSOC redoubt described it as an enclave of unusual secrecy and discretion. “Everything they were working on was closely held,” the official said.

The relationship between special-operations units and the C.I.A. dates back to the Vietnam War. But the line between the two communities has increasingly blurred as C.I.A. officers and military personnel have encountered one another on multiple tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. “These people grew up together,” a senior Defense Department official told me. “We are in each other’s systems, we speak each other’s languages.” (Exemplifying this trend, General David H. Petraeus, the former commanding general in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now the incoming head of the C.I.A., and Panetta has taken over the Department of Defense.) The bin Laden mission—plotted at C.I.A. headquarters and authorized under C.I.A. legal statutes but conducted by Navy DEVGRU operators—brought the coöperation between the agency and the Pentagon to an even higher level. John Radsan, a former assistant general counsel at the C.I.A., said that the Abbottabad raid amounted to “a complete incorporation of JSOC into a C.I.A. operation.”

On March 14th, Obama called his national-security advisers into the White House Situation Room and reviewed a spreadsheet listing possible courses of action against the Abbottabad compound. Most were variations of either a JSOC raid or an airstrike. Some versions included coöperating with the Pakistani military; some did not. Obama decided against informing or working with Pakistan. “There was a real lack of confidence that the Pakistanis could keep this secret for more than a nanosecond,” a senior adviser to the President told me. At the end of the meeting, Obama instructed McRaven to proceed with planning the raid.

Brian invited James, the commander of DEVGRU’s Red Squadron, and Mark, the master chief petty officer, to join him at C.I.A. headquarters. They spent the next two and a half weeks considering ways to get inside bin Laden’s house. One option entailed flying helicopters to a spot outside Abbottabad and letting the team sneak into the city on foot. The risk of detection was high, however, and the SEALs would be tired by a long run to the compound. The planners had contemplated tunnelling in—or, at least, the possibility that bin Laden might tunnel out. But images provided by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency showed that there was standing water in the vicinity, suggesting that the compound sat in a flood basin. The water table was probably just below the surface, making tunnels highly unlikely. Eventually, the planners agreed that it made the most sense to fly directly into the compound. “Special operations is about doing what’s not expected, and probably the least expected thing here was that a helicopter would come in, drop guys on the roof, and land in the yard,” the special-operations officer said.
On March 29th, McRaven brought the plan to Obama. The President’s military advisers were divided. Some supported a raid, some an airstrike, and others wanted to hold off until the intelligence improved. Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense, was one of the most outspoken opponents of a helicopter assault. Gates reminded his colleagues that he had been in the Situation Room of the Carter White House when military officials presented Eagle Claw—the 1980 Delta Force operation that aimed at rescuing American hostages in Tehran but resulted in a disastrous collision in the Iranian desert, killing eight American soldiers. “They said that was a pretty good idea, too,” Gates warned. He and General James Cartwright, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs, favored an airstrike by B-2 Spirit bombers. That option would avoid the risk of having American boots on the ground in Pakistan. But the Air Force then calculated that a payload of thirty-two smart bombs, each weighing two thousand pounds, would be required to penetrate thirty feet below ground, insuring that any bunkers would collapse. “That much ordnance going off would be the equivalent of an earthquake,” Cartwright told me. The prospect of flattening a Pakistani city made Obama pause. He shelved the B-2 option and directed McRaven to start rehearsing the raid.

Brian, James, and Mark selected a team of two dozen SEALs from Red Squadron and told them to report to a densely forested site in North Carolina for a training exercise on April 10th. (Red Squadron is one of four squadrons in DEVGRU, which has about three hundred operators in all.) None of the SEALs, besides James and Mark, were aware of the C.I.A. intelligence on bin Laden’s compound until a lieutenant commander walked into an office at the site. He found a two-star Army general from JSOC headquarters seated at a conference table with Brian, James, Mark, and several analysts from the C.I.A. This obviously wasn’t a training exercise. The lieutenant commander was promptly “read in.” A replica of the compound had been built at the site, with walls and chain-link fencing marking the layout of the compound. The team spent the next five days practicing maneuvers.
On April 18th, the DEVGRU squad flew to Nevada for another week of rehearsals. The practice site was a large government-owned stretch of desert with an elevation equivalent to the area surrounding Abbottabad. An extant building served as bin Laden’s house. Aircrews plotted out a path that paralleled the flight from Jalalabad to Abbottabad. Each night after sundown, drills commenced. Twelve SEALs, including Mark, boarded helo one. Eleven SEALs, Ahmed, and Cairo boarded helo two. The pilots flew in the dark, arrived at the simulated compound, and settled into a hover while the SEALs fast-roped down. Not everyone on the team was accustomed to helicopter assaults. Ahmed had been pulled from a desk job for the mission and had never descended a fast rope. He quickly learned the technique.
The assault plan was now honed. Helo one was to hover over the yard, drop two fast ropes, and let all twelve SEALs slide down into the yard. Helo two would fly to the northeast corner of the compound and let out Ahmed, Cairo, and four SEALs, who would monitor the perimeter of the building. The copter would then hover over the house, and James and the remaining six SEALs would shimmy down to the roof. As long as everything was cordial, Ahmed would hold curious neighbors at bay. The SEALs and the dog could assist more aggressively, if needed. Then, if bin Laden was proving difficult to find, Cairo could be sent into the house to search for false walls or hidden doors. “This wasn’t a hard op,” the special-operations officer told me. “It would be like hitting a target in McLean”—the upscale Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C.

A planeload of guests arrived on the night of April 21st. Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, along with Olson and McRaven, sat with C.I.A. personnel in a hangar as Brian, James, Mark, and the pilots presented a brief on the raid, which had been named Operation Neptune’s Spear. Despite JSOC’s lead role in Neptune’s Spear, the mission officially remained a C.I.A. covert operation. The covert approach allowed the White House to hide its involvement, if necessary. As the counterterrorism official put it recently, “If you land and everybody is out on a milk run, then you get the hell out and no one knows.” After describing the operation, the briefers fielded questions: What if a mob surrounded the compound? Were the SEALs prepared to shoot civilians? Olson, who received the Silver Star for valor during the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” episode, in Mogadishu, Somalia, worried that it could be politically catastrophic if a U.S. helicopter were shot down inside Pakistani territory. After an hour or so of questioning, the senior officers and intelligence analysts returned to Washington. Two days later, theSEALs flew back to Dam Neck, their base in Virginia.

On the night of Tuesday, April 26th, the SEAL team boarded a Boeing C-17 Globemaster at Naval Air Station Oceana, a few miles from Dam Neck. After a refuelling stop at Ramstein Air Base, in Germany, the C-17 continued to Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul. The SEALs spent a night in Bagram and moved to Jalalabad on Wednesday.

That day in Washington, Panetta convened more than a dozen senior C.I.A. officials and analysts for a final preparatory meeting. Panetta asked the participants, one by one, to declare how confident they were that bin Laden was inside the Abbottabad compound. The counterterrorism official told me that the percentages “ranged from forty per cent to ninety or ninety-five per cent,” and added, “This was a circumstantial case.”

Panetta was mindful of the analysts’ doubts, but he believed that the intelligence was better than anything that the C.I.A. had gathered on bin Laden since his flight from Tora Bora. Late on Thursday afternoon, Panetta and the rest of the national-security team met with the President. For the next few nights, there would be virtually no moonlight over Abbottabad—the ideal condition for a raid. After that, it would be another month until the lunar cycle was in its darkest phase. Several analysts from the National Counterterrorism Center were invited to critique the C.I.A.’s analysis; their confidence in the intelligence ranged between forty and sixty per cent. The center’s director, Michael Leiter, said that it would be preferable to wait for stronger confirmation of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad. Yet, as Ben Rhodes, a deputy national-security adviser, put it to me recently, the longer things dragged on, the greater the risk of a leak, “which would have upended the thing.” Obama adjourned the meeting just after 7 P.M. and said that he would sleep on it.

The next morning, the President met in the Map Room with Tom Donilon, his national-security adviser, Denis McDonough, a deputy adviser, and Brennan. Obama had decided to go with a DEVGRU assault, with McRaven choosing the night. It was too late for a Friday attack, and on Saturday there was excessive cloud cover. On Saturday afternoon, McRaven and Obama spoke on the phone, and McRaven said that the raid would occur on Sunday night. “Godspeed to you and your forces,” Obama told him. “Please pass on to them my personal thanks for their service and the message that I personally will be following this mission very closely.”

On the morning of Sunday, May 1st, White House officials cancelled scheduled visits, ordered sandwich platters from Costco, and transformed the Situation Room into a war room. At eleven o’clock, Obama’s top advisers began gathering around a large conference table. A video link connected them to Panetta, at C.I.A. headquarters, and McRaven, in Afghanistan. (There were at least two other command centers, one inside the Pentagon and one inside the American Embassy in Islamabad.)

Brigadier General Marshall Webb, an assistant commander of JSOC, took a seat at the end of a lacquered table in a small adjoining office and turned on his laptop. He opened multiple chat windows that kept him, and the White House, connected with the other command teams. The office where Webb sat had the only video feed in the White House showing real-time footage of the target, which was being shot by an unarmed RQ 170 drone flying more than fifteen thousand feet above Abbottabad. The JSOC planners, determined to keep the operation as secret as possible, had decided against using additional fighters or bombers. “It just wasn’t worth it,” the special-operations officer told me. The SEALs were on their own.

Obama returned to the White House at two o’clock, after playing nine holes of golf at Andrews Air Force Base. The Black Hawks departed from Jalalabad thirty minutes later. Just before four o’clock, Panetta announced to the group in the Situation Room that the helicopters were approaching Abbottabad. Obama stood up. “I need to watch this,” he said, stepping across the hall into the small office and taking a seat alongside Webb. Vice-President Joseph Biden, Secretary Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton followed him, as did anyone else who could fit into the office. On the office’s modestly sized LCD screen, helo one—grainy and black-and-white—appeared above the compound, then promptly ran into trouble.
When the helicopter began getting away from the pilot, he pulled back on the cyclic, which controls the pitch of the rotor blades, only to find the aircraft unresponsive. The high walls of the compound and the warm temperatures had caused the Black Hawk to descend inside its own rotor wash—a hazardous aerodynamic situation known as “settling with power.” In North Carolina, this potential problem had not become apparent, because the chain-link fencing used in rehearsals had allowed air to flow freely. A former helicopter pilot with extensive special-operations experience said of the pilot’s situation, “It’s pretty spooky—I’ve been in it myself. The only way to get out of it is to push the cyclic forward and fly out of this vertical silo you’re dropping through. That solution requires altitude. If you’re settling with power at two thousand feet, you’ve got plenty of time to recover. If you’re settling with power at fifty feet, you’re going to hit the ground.”

The pilot scrapped the plan to fast-rope and focussed on getting the aircraft down. He aimed for an animal pen in the western section of the compound. The SEALs on board braced themselves as the tail rotor swung around, scraping the security wall. The pilot jammed the nose forward to drive it into the dirt and prevent his aircraft from rolling onto its side. Cows, chickens, and rabbits scurried. With the Black Hawk pitched at a forty-five-degree angle astride the wall, the crew sent a distress call to the idling Chinooks.

James and the SEALs in helo two watched all this while hovering over the compound’s northeast corner. The second pilot, unsure whether his colleagues were taking fire or experiencing mechanical problems, ditched his plan to hover over the roof. Instead, he landed in a grassy field across the street from the house.

No American was yet inside the residential part of the compound. Mark and his team were inside a downed helicopter at one corner, while James and his team were at the opposite end. The teams had barely been on target for a minute, and the mission was already veering off course.

“Eternity is defined as the time be tween when you see something go awry and that first voice report,” the special-operations officer said. The officials in Washington viewed the aerial footage and waited anxiously to hear a military communication. The senior adviser to the President compared the experience to watching “the climax of a movie.”

After a few minutes, the twelve SEALs inside helo one recovered their bearings and calmly relayed on the radio that they were proceeding with the raid. They had conducted so many operations over the past nine years that few things caught them off guard. In the months after the raid, the media have frequently suggested that the Abbottabad operation was as challenging as Operation Eagle Claw and the “Black Hawk Down” incident, but the senior Defense Department official told me that “this was not one of three missions. This was one of almost two thousand missions that have been conducted over the last couple of years, night after night.” He likened the routine of evening raids to “mowing the lawn.” On the night of May 1st alone, special-operations forces based in Afghanistan conducted twelve other missions; according to the official, those operations captured or killed between fifteen and twenty targets. “Most of the missions take off and go left,” he said. “This one took off and went right.”

Minutes after hitting the ground, Mark and the other team members began streaming out the side doors of helo one. Mud sucked at their boots as they ran alongside a ten-foot-high wall that enclosed the animal pen. A three-man demolition unit hustled ahead to the pen’s closed metal gate, reached into bags containing explosives, and placed C-4 charges on the hinges. After a loud bang, the door fell open. The nine other SEALs rushed forward, ending up in an alleylike driveway with their backs to the house’s main entrance. They moved down the alley, silenced rifles pressed against their shoulders. Mark hung toward the rear as he established radio communications with the other team. At the end of the driveway, the Americans blew through yet another locked gate and stepped into a courtyard facing the guesthouse, where Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, bin Laden’s courier, lived with his wife and four children.

Three SEALs in front broke off to clear the guesthouse as the remaining nine blasted through another gate and entered an inner courtyard, which faced the main house. When the smaller unit rounded the corner to face the doors of the guesthouse, they spotted Kuwaiti running inside to warn his wife and children. The Americans’ night-vision goggles cast the scene in pixellated shades of emerald green. Kuwaiti, wearing a white shalwar kameez, had grabbed a weapon and was coming back outside when the SEALs opened fire and killed him.
The nine other SEALs, including Mark, formed three-man units for clearing the inner courtyard. The Americans suspected that several more men were in the house: Kuwaiti’s thirty-three-year-old brother, Abrar; bin Laden’s sons Hamza and Khalid; and bin Laden himself. One SEAL unit had no sooner trod on the paved patio at the house’s front entrance when Abrar—a stocky, mustachioed man in a cream-colored shalwar kameez—appeared with an AK-47. He was shot in the chest and killed, as was his wife, Bushra, who was standing, unarmed, beside him.

Outside the compound’s walls, Ahmed, the translator, patrolled the dirt road in front of bin Laden’s house, as if he were a plainclothes Pakistani police officer. He looked the part, wearing a shalwar kameez atop a flak jacket. He, the dog Cairo, and four SEALs were responsible for closing off the perimeter of the house while James and six other SEALs—the contingent that was supposed to have dropped onto the roof—moved inside. For the team patrolling the perimeter, the first fifteen minutes passed without incident. Neighbors undoubtedly heard the low-flying helicopters, the sound of one crashing, and the sporadic explosions and gunfire that ensued, but nobody came outside. One local took note of the tumult in a Twitter post: “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1 AM (is a rare event).”

Eventually, a few curious Pakistanis approached to inquire about the commotion on the other side of the wall. “Go back to your houses,” Ahmed said, in Pashto, as Cairo stood watch. “There is a security operation under way.” The locals went home, none of them suspecting that they had talked to an American. When journalists descended on Bilal Town in the coming days, one resident told a reporter, “I saw soldiers emerging from the helicopters and advancing toward the house. Some of them instructed us in chaste Pashto to turn off the lights and stay inside.”

Meanwhile, James, the squadron commander, had breached one wall, crossed a section of the yard covered with trellises, breached a second wall, and joined up with the SEALs from helo one, who were entering the ground floor of the house. What happened next is not precisely clear. “I can tell you that there was a time period of almost twenty to twenty-five minutes where we really didn’t know just exactly what was going on,” Panetta said later, on “PBS NewsHour.”
Until this moment, the operation had been monitored by dozens of defense, intelligence, and Administration officials watching the drone’s video feed. The SEALs were not wearing helmet cams, contrary to a widely cited report by CBS. None of them had any previous knowledge of the house’s floor plan, and they were further jostled by the awareness that they were possibly minutes away from ending the costliest manhunt in American history; as a result, some of their recollections—on which this account is based—may be imprecise and, thus, subject to dispute.

As Abrar’s children ran for cover, the SEALs began clearing the first floor of the main house, room by room. Though the Americans had thought that the house might be booby-trapped, the presence of kids at the compound suggested otherwise. “You can only be hyper-vigilant for so long,” the special-operations officer said. “Did bin Laden go to sleep every night thinking, The next night they’re coming? Of course not. Maybe for the first year or two. But not now.” Nevertheless, security precautions were in place. A locked metal gate blocked the base of the staircase leading to the second floor, making the downstairs room feel like a cage.

After blasting through the gate with C-4 charges, three SEALs marched up the stairs. Midway up, they saw bin Laden’s twenty-three-year-old son, Khalid, craning his neck around the corner. He then appeared at the top of the staircase with an AK-47. Khalid, who wore a white T-shirt with an overstretched neckline and had short hair and a clipped beard, fired down at the Americans. (The counterterrorism official claims that Khalid was unarmed, though still a threat worth taking seriously. “You have an adult male, late at night, in the dark, coming down the stairs at you in an Al Qaeda house—your assumption is that you’re encountering a hostile.”) At least two of the SEALs shot back and killed Khalid. According to the booklets that the SEALs carried, up to five adult males were living inside the compound. Three of them were now dead; the fourth, bin Laden’s son Hamza, was not on the premises. The final person was bin Laden.

Before the mission commenced, the SEALs had created a checklist of code words that had a Native American theme. Each code word represented a different stage of the mission: leaving Jalalabad, entering Pakistan, approaching the compound, and so on. “Geronimo” was to signify that bin Laden had been found.

Three SEALs shuttled past Khalid’s body and blew open another metal cage, which obstructed the staircase leading to the third floor. Bounding up the unlit stairs, they scanned the railed landing. On the top stair, the lead SEAL swivelled right; with his night-vision goggles, he discerned that a tall, rangy man with a fist-length beard was peeking out from behind a bedroom door, ten feet away. The SEAL instantly sensed that it was Crankshaft. (The counterterrorism official asserts that the SEAL first saw bin Laden on the landing, and fired but missed.)

The Americans hurried toward the bedroom door. The first SEAL pushed it open. Two of bin Laden’s wives had placed themselves in front of him. Amal al-Fatah, bin Laden’s fifth wife, was screaming in Arabic. She motioned as if she were going to charge; the SEAL lowered his sights and shot her once, in the calf. Fearing that one or both women were wearing suicide jackets, he stepped forward, wrapped them in a bear hug, and drove them aside. He would almost certainly have been killed had they blown themselves up, but by blanketing them he would have absorbed some of the blast and potentially saved the two SEALs behind him. In the end, neither woman was wearing an explosive vest.
A second SEAL stepped into the room and trained the infrared laser of his M4 on bin Laden’s chest. The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on his head, froze; he was unarmed. “There was never any question of detaining or capturing him—it wasn’t a split-second decision. No one wanted detainees,” the special-operations officer told me. (The Administration maintains that had bin Laden immediately surrendered he could have been taken alive.) Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his head, just above his left eye. On his radio, he reported, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” After a pause, he added, “Geronimo E.K.I.A.”—“enemy killed in action.”

Hearing this at the White House, Obama pursed his lips, and said solemnly, to no one in particular, “We got him.”

Relaxing his hold on bin Laden’s two wives, the first SEAL placed the women in flex cuffs and led them downstairs. Two of his colleagues, meanwhile, ran upstairs with a nylon body bag. They unfurled it, knelt down on either side of bin Laden, and placed the body inside the bag. Eighteen minutes had elapsed since the DEVGRU team landed. For the next twenty minutes, the mission shifted to an intelligence-gathering operation.

Four men scoured the second floor, plastic bags in hand, collecting flash drives, CDs, DVDs, and computer hardware from the room, which had served, in part, as bin Laden’s makeshift media studio. In the coming weeks, a C.I.A.-led task force examined the files and determined that bin Laden had remained far more involved in the operational activities of Al Qaeda than many American officials had thought. He had been developing plans to assassinate Obama and Petraeus, to pull off an extravagant September 11th anniversary attack, and to attack American trains. The SEALs also found an archive of digital pornography. “We find it on all these guys, whether they’re in Somalia, Iraq, or Afghanistan,” the special-operations officer said. Bin Laden’s gold-threaded robes, worn during his video addresses, hung behind a curtain in the media room.
Outside, the Americans corralled the women and children—each of them bound in flex cuffs—and had them sit against an exterior wall that faced the second, undamaged Black Hawk. The lone fluent Arabic speaker on the assault team questioned them. Nearly all the children were under the age of ten. They seemed to have no idea about the tenant upstairs, other than that he was “an old guy.” None of the women confirmed that the man was bin Laden, though one of them kept referring to him as “the sheikh.” When the rescue Chinook eventually arrived, a medic stepped out and knelt over the corpse. He injected a needle into bin Laden’s body and extracted two bone-marrow samples. More DNA was taken with swabs. One of the bone-marrow samples went into the Black Hawk. The other went into the Chinook, along with bin Laden’s body.

Next, the SEALs needed to destroy the damaged Black Hawk. The pilot, armed with a hammer that he kept for such situations, smashed the instrument panel, the radio, and the other classified fixtures inside the cockpit. Then the demolition unit took over. They placed explosives near the avionics system, the communications gear, the engine, and the rotor head. “You’re not going to hide the fact that it’s a helicopter,” the special-operations officer said. “But you want to make it unusable.” The SEALs placed extra C-4 charges under the carriage, rolled thermite grenades inside the copter’s body, and then backed up. Helo one burst into flames while the demolition team boarded the Chinook. The women and children, who were being left behind for the Pakistani authorities, looked puzzled, scared, and shocked as they watched the SEALs board the helicopters. Amal, bin Laden’s wife, continued her harangue. Then, as a giant fire burned inside the compound walls, the Americans flew away.

In the Situation Room, Obama said, “I’m not going to be happy until those guys get out safe.” After thirty-eight minutes inside the compound, the two SEAL teams had to make the long flight back to Afghanistan. The Black Hawk was low on gas, and needed to rendezvous with the Chinook at the refuelling point that was near the Afghan border—but still inside Pakistan. Filling the gas tank took twenty-five minutes. At one point, Biden, who had been fingering a rosary, turned to Mullen, the Joint Chiefs chairman. “We should all go to Mass tonight,” he said.

The helicopters landed back in Jalalabad around 3 A.M.; McRaven and the C.I.A. station chief met the team on the tarmac. A pair of SEALs unloaded the body bag and unzipped it so that McRaven and the C.I.A. officer could see bin Laden’s corpse with their own eyes. Photographs were taken of bin Laden’s face and then of his outstretched body. Bin Laden was believed to be about six feet four, but no one had a tape measure to confirm the body’s length. So one SEAL, who was six feet tall, lay beside the corpse: it measured roughly four inches longer than the American. Minutes later, McRaven appeared on the teleconference screen in the Situation Room and confirmed that bin Laden’s body was in the bag. The corpse was sent to Bagram.

All along, the SEALs had planned to dump bin Laden’s corpse into the sea—a blunt way of ending the bin Laden myth. They had successfully pulled off a similar scheme before. During a DEVGRU helicopter raid inside Somalia in September, 2009, SEALs had killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, one of East Africa’s top Al Qaeda leaders; Nabhan’s corpse was then flown to a ship in the Indian Ocean, given proper Muslim rites, and thrown overboard. Before taking that step for bin Laden, however, John Brennan made a call. Brennan, who had been a C.I.A. station chief in Riyadh, phoned a former counterpart in Saudi intelligence. Brennan told the man what had occurred in Abbottabad and informed him of the plan to deposit bin Laden’s remains at sea. As Brennan knew, bin Laden’s relatives were still a prominent family in the Kingdom, and Osama had once been a Saudi citizen. Did the Saudi government have any interest in taking the body? “Your plan sounds like a good one,” the Saudi replied.

At dawn, bin Laden was loaded into the belly of a flip-wing V-22 Osprey, accompanied by a JSOC liaison officer and a security detail of military police. The Osprey flew south, destined for the deck of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson—a thousand-foot-long nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailing in the Arabian Sea, off the Pakistani coast. The Americans, yet again, were about to traverse Pakistani airspace without permission. Some officials worried that the Pakistanis, stung by the humiliation of the unilateral raid in Abbottabad, might restrict the Osprey’s access. The airplane ultimately landed on the Vinson without incident.

Bin Laden’s body was washed, wrapped in a white burial shroud, weighted, and then slipped inside a bag. The process was done “in strict conformance with Islamic precepts and practices,” Brennan later told reporters. The JSOC liaison, the military-police contingent, and several sailors placed the shrouded body on an open-air elevator, and rode down with it to the lower level, which functions as a hangar for airplanes. From a height of between twenty and twenty-five feet above the waves, they heaved the corpse into the water.

Back in Abbottabad, residents of Bilal Town and dozens of journalists converged on bin Laden’s compound, and the morning light clarified some of the confusion from the previous night. Black soot from the detonated Black Hawk charred the wall of the animal pen. Part of the tail hung over the wall. It was clear that a military raid had taken place there. “I’m glad no one was hurt in the crash, but, on the other hand, I’m sort of glad we left the helicopter there,” the special-operations officer said. “It quiets the conspiracy mongers out there and instantly lends credibility. You believe everything else instantly, because there’s a helicopter sitting there.”
After the raid, Pakistan’s political leadership engaged in frantic damage control. In the Washington Post, President Asif Ali Zardari wrote that bin Laden “was not anywhere we had anticipated he would be, but now he is gone,” adding that “a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden.”

Pakistani military officials reacted more cynically. They arrested at least five Pakistanis for helping the C.I.A., including the physician who ran the immunization drive in Abbottabad. And several Pakistani media outlets, including the Nation—a jingoistic English-language newspaper that is considered a mouthpiece for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or I.S.I.—published what they claimed was the name of the C.I.A.’s station chief in Islamabad. (Shireen Mazari, a former editor of the Nation, once told me, “Our interests and the Americans’ interests don’t coincide.”) The published name was incorrect, and the C.I.A. officer opted to stay.

The proximity of bin Laden’s house to the Pakistan Military Academy raised the possibility that the military, or the I.S.I., had helped protect bin Laden. How could Al Qaeda’s chief live so close to the academy without at least some officers knowing about it? Suspicion grew after theTimes reported that at least one cell phone recovered from bin Laden’s house contained contacts for senior militants belonging to Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, a jihadi group that has had close ties to the I.S.I. Although American officials have stated that Pakistani officials must have helped bin Laden hide in Abbottabad, definitive evidence has not yet been presented.

Bin Laden’s death provided the White House with the symbolic victory it needed to begin phasing troops out of Afghanistan. Seven weeks later, Obama announced a timetable for withdrawal. Even so, U.S. counterterrorism activities inside Pakistan—that is, covert operations conducted by the C.I.A. and JSOC—are not expected to diminish anytime soon. Since May 2nd, there have been more than twenty drone strikes in North and South Waziristan, including one that allegedly killed Ilyas Kashmiri, a top Al Qaeda leader, while he was sipping tea in an apple orchard.

The success of the bin Laden raid has sparked a conversation inside military and intelligence circles: Are there other terrorists worth the risk of another helicopter assault in a Pakistani city? “There are people out there that, if we could find them, we would go after them,” Cartwright told me. He mentioned Ayman al-Zawahiri, the new leader of Al Qaeda, who is believed to be in Pakistan, and Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric in Yemen. Cartwright emphasized that “going after them” didn’t necessarily mean another DEVGRU raid. The special-operations officer spoke more boldly. He believes that a precedent has been set for more unilateral raids in the future. “Folks now realize we can weather it,” he said. The senior adviser to the President said that “penetrating other countries’ sovereign airspace covertly is something that’s always available for the right mission and the right gain.” Brennan told me, “The confidence we have in the capabilities of the U.S. military is, without a doubt, even stronger after this operation.”

On May 6th, Al Qaeda confirmed bin Laden’s death and released a statement congratulating “the Islamic nation” on “the martyrdom of its good son Osama.” The authors promised Americans that “their joy will turn to sorrow and their tears will mix with blood.” That day, President Obama travelled to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where the 160th is based, to meet the DEVGRU unit and the pilots who pulled off the raid. The SEALs, who had returned home from Afghanistan earlier in the week, flew in from Virginia. Biden, Tom Donilon, and a dozen other national-security advisers came along.

McRaven greeted Obama on the tarmac. (They had met at the White House a few days earlier—the President had presented McRaven with a tape measure.) McRaven led the President and his team into a one-story building on the other side of the base. They walked into a windowless room with shabby carpets, fluorescent lights, and three rows of metal folding chairs. McRaven, Brian, the pilots from the 160th, and James took turns briefing the President. They had set up a three-dimensional model of bin Laden’s compound on the floor and, waving a red laser pointer, traced their maneuvers inside. A satellite image of the compound was displayed on a wall, along with a map showing the flight routes into and out of Pakistan. The briefing lasted about thirty-five minutes. Obama wanted to know how Ahmed had kept locals at bay; he also inquired about the fallen Black Hawk and whether above-average temperatures in Abbottabad had contributed to the crash. (The Pentagon is conducting a formal investigation of the accident.)

When James, the squadron commander, spoke, he started by citing all the forward operating bases in eastern Afghanistan that had been named for SEALs killed in combat. “Everything we have done for the last ten years prepared us for this,” he told Obama. The President was “in awe of these guys,” Ben Rhodes, the deputy national-security adviser, who travelled with Obama, said. “It was an extraordinary base visit,” he added. “They knew he had staked his Presidency on this. He knew they staked their lives on it.”

As James talked about the raid, he mentioned Cairo’s role. “There was a dog?” Obama interrupted. James nodded and said that Cairo was in an adjoining room, muzzled, at the request of the Secret Service.
“I want to meet that dog,” Obama said.
“If you want to meet the dog, Mr. President, I advise you to bring treats,” James joked. Obama went over to pet Cairo, but the dog’s muzzle was left on.
Afterward, Obama and his advisers went into a second room, down the hall, where others involved in the raid—including logisticians, crew chiefs, and SEAL alternates—had assembled. Obama presented the team with a Presidential Unit Citation and said, “Our intelligence professionals did some amazing work. I had fifty-fifty confidence that bin Laden was there, but I had one-hundred-per-cent confidence in you guys. You are, literally, the finest small-fighting force that has ever existed in the world.” The raiding team then presented the President with an American flag that had been on board the rescue Chinook. Measuring three feet by five, the flag had been stretched, ironed, and framed. The SEALs and the pilots had signed it on the back; an inscription on the front read, “From the Joint Task Force Operation Neptune’s Spear, 01 May 2011: ‘For God and country. Geronimo.’ ” Obama promised to put the gift “somewhere private and meaningful to me.” Before the President returned to Washington, he posed for photographs with each team member and spoke with many of them, but he left one thing unsaid. He never asked who fired the kill shot, and the SEALs never volunteered to tell him.

Information pointed to by ijaz Syed
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Status of World’s Women – Report 2011-2012

“Progress of the World’s Women 2011-2012: In Pursuit of Justice”‏ by UN Women.

By Myra Imran

Raising numerous serious questions regarding lacunas in the prevalent justice systems around the world, the UN Women launched its first major report titled ‘Progress of the World’s Women 2011-2012 — In Pursuit of Justice’ in Pakistan on Friday.

Presenting a comparative analysis of global statistics, the first major report following the organisation’s launch in early 2011, mentions that justice remains out of the reach of millions of the world’s women. It says Domestic violence is outlawed in 125 countries of the world but globally, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.

Laws based on custom or religion, which exist alongside state legislation, frequently restrict women’s rights within the family, in marriage, divorce and the right to inherit property. “Much has been achieved in the private and public spheres in the last century. Yet discrimination and gender injustice remain prevalent around the world.”

The report says that 117 countries have equal pay laws yet, in practice, women are still paid up to 30 per cent less than men in some countries and women still do more unpaid domestic and caring work than men in every region of the world.

It points out that globally, 53 per cent of working women — 600 million in total — are in vulnerable jobs, such as self-employment, domestic work or unpaid work for family businesses, which often lack the protection of labour laws.

Highlighting another such dimension, the report says that by 2011, at least 52 countries had made marital rape a criminal offence. And yet, over 2.6 billion women live in countries where it has not been explicitly criminalized.

It mentions that in countries where there have been steep increases in women’s representation in Parliaments, progressive laws on women’s rights have often followed yet there are still less than 30 per cent of women in parliament in the vast majority of countries. It further mentions that donors spend US$4.2 billion annually on aid for justice reform, but only 5 per cent of this spending specifically targets women and girls.

The report also recognises the positive progress made and says that 139 countries and territories now guarantee gender equality in their constitutions but it also shows that too often, women continue to experience injustice, violence and inequality in their home and working lives.

To ensure justice becomes a reality for all women, UN Women calls on governments to repeal laws that discriminate against women, support innovative justice services, put women on the frontline of justice delivery and invest in justice system that can respond to women’s need.

It stresses the need to ensure that legislation protects women from violence and inequality in the home and the workplace and demands innovative justice services such as one-stop shops, legal aid and specialised courts, to ensure women can access the justice to which they are entitled.

The report says that across the board, existing laws are too often inadequately enforced, the report finds. Many women shrink away from reporting crimes due to social stigma and weak justice systems. The costs and practical difficulties of seeking justice can be prohibitive — from travel to a distant court, to paying for expensive legal advice. The result is high drop-out rates in cases where women seek redress, especially on gender-based violence.

The thought provoking and colourful launching of report was attended by a large number of women right activists, representatives of civil society organisations, lawyer’s associations and law enforcing agencies. Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza was the chief guest on the occasion.

Others who spoke at the event included Federal Ombudsperson for Harassment Act Mussarat Hilali, President Lawyers for Human Rights Zia Awan, AIG Islamabad Ehsan Sadiq and Country Director UN Women Alice Shakleford.

The speakers stressed the need for collaborative efforts to create an enabling environment for women in pursuit justice. They pointed out that enough legislation has been formulated in Pakistan for women in past few decades but the real issue is the effective implementation of these laws. They also demanded elimination of discriminatory laws.

Besides formal speeches made by the guests, the event included an interactive session with the stakeholders and poetry recitation by UN Gender Expert Salman Asif who read some of the very fine verses by eminent social worker Bilqees Edhi urging everyone to feel for women in distress and help them.

Another unique feature was the audio of inspiring stories of women survivors played for the guests. These women faced extreme forms of violence against women but were brave enough to fight back and become a role model for others.

Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza said that no system can claim to be democratic and participatory if it fails to include and address the issues concerning its women. She said that women’s pursuit for justice stretches back beyond recorded time to the myths and legends told by ancient seers in all cultures and civilisations.

“Societies were always hesitant in accepting them on a par with their men. It is high time that we make our society realize that gender roles, inequities and power imbalances are not a ‘natural’ result of biological differences, but determined by the systems and cultures in which we live.”

She highlighted the efforts of Pakistan People’s Part to bring women in the lime light at every level. She said that in the last three years of its 5-year tenure, the women Parliamentarians ran 60 per cent of the business in the National Assembly and the government has passed 77 bills in which more than a dozen relate to women and children.

“Laws hold a critical balance in shaping societies although they alone cannot bring a change in mindsets. No government, no matter how democratic in nature, can bring about a revolution on its own if it is not backed by a strong and committed public opinion,” she opined.

She said that Pakistan will hold the seventh meeting of the Women Speakers of Parliaments around the world in November this year, where the women speakers will focus on making parliaments more gender sensitive. At the Saarc Speakers Conference in Delhi, she has also proposed the creation of a Saarc Parliament which could allow the Parliamentarians of the region to jointly address issues of social injustice, the speeding up of the MDGs and the realization of an equity-based gender-balanced mutually beneficial Saarc community.

Saturday, July 30, 2011
National Commission on the Status of Women-Pakistan
Government of Pakistan
Phone: +92-51-9224875,9209885
comms@ncsw.gov.pk
www.ncsw.gov.pk

Pakistan’s Christian Sanitation Workers

Pakistan’s Christian Sanitation Workers Swept into Societal Gutter‏
By Asif Aqeel

Summary
LAHORE, Pakistan, July 7 (Compass Direct News) – While one Christian sanitation worker here has been suspended and criminal charges filed against him for objecting to discrimination against fellow workers, another was killed the same month for not tending to a shopkeeper’s command fast enough. Anayat Masih Sahotra, who has worked as a street sweeper for Lahore’s Solid Waste Management (SWM) department for 24 years, said he is facing baseless charges of forgery and fraud from his employers because of his work as a labor leader for area sweepers, who are nearly all Christians. He was suspended and accused of the crimes on May 14 after he asked SWM Managing Director Wasim Ajmal Chaudhry to fulfill a promise to make 400 Christian workers regular employees with full benefits, he said.

The deep, culturally-rooted disparagement Christian sanitation workers suffer was apparent in another incident in May. Abbas Masih, 36, was cleaning the streets on May 21 when he was murdered for not picking up trash quickly enough, human rights advocates said. Contempt for sweepers is rooted deeply in cultural history, the result of a merging of Brahmanic Hinduism’s ritual impurity with Islamic ceremonial uncleanness in regard to sweepers – almost all of whom were Hindu “untouchables” who converted to Christianity in the late 19th century. Pakistani officials appear to want to keep Christians in this degrading occupation. Several job advertisements from government departments clearly state that sweeper candidates must be non-Muslim; some even specify that they must be Christians.

Article
LAHORE, Pakistan, July 7 (Compass Direct News) – The often unseen or unrecognized abuses suffered by Christians at Pakistan’s lowest level of society – street sweepers – have come into sharp focus this year.

While one Christian sanitation worker in Lahore has been suspended and criminal charges filed against him for objecting to discrimination against fellow workers, another was killed the same month for not tending to a shopkeeper’s command fast enough.

Anayat Masih Sahotra, who has worked as a street sweeper for Lahore’s Solid Waste Management (SWM) department for 24 years, said he is facing baseless charges of forgery and fraud from his employers because of his work as a labor leader for area sweepers, who are nearly all Christians. He was suspended and accused of the crimes on May 14 after he asked SWM Managing Director Wasim Ajmal Chaudhry to fulfill a promise to make 400 Christian workers regular employees with full benefits, he said.

Sahotra said when Chaudhry refused his request to make the Christian sweepers regular employees according to the requirements of Pakistani law, he told the managing director that he could expect protests. Protest against injustice was their civil right, he said, and plans for a demonstration were underway when he received the suspension order alleging forgery and fraud.

When he went to Chaudhry’s office again on May 26 to object to the injustice of the suspension order, he said Chaudhry referred to him and other Christian workers as Chuhras, an offensive term of contempt for street sweepers, an occupation assigned only to those of such low “untouchable” social standing that they are below the remnant caste system predating Pakistan’s predominantly Islamic society.

“I know you low-born Christian Chuhras, and I know how to deal with you,” Sahotra said Chaudhry told him.

Sahotra left Chaudhry’s office, he said, only to receive a phone call a few minutes later from SWM Assistant District Officer Faiz Ahmed Afridi telling him to come to his office. Sahotra went to Afridi’s office in the evening, where he was offered to sit and have a cup of tea, he said.

“While I was taking tea, police entered the office and arrested me,” Sahotra said. “I was shocked how cunning Faiz had been to me.”

Charges were filed the same day at Islampura police station, accusing Sahotra of criminally intimidating Afridi, though Sahotra said he was calmly taking tea when police arrested him.

The next day Sahotra was granted bail, but a few days later Anarkali police called him, saying the superintendent of police wanted to talk to him.

“The police of Anarkali are tricking me into meeting them,” he said. “They want to arrest me on any other charge in order to mount pressure on me to withdraw my support to the Christian employees who are not being made regular despite having worked there for several years.”

As temporary or “work charge” employees, the sanitation workers’ contracts expire every 88 days, and they are hired every third month. This goes on for decades, with the employees working until they are too feeble to do so without any benefits or pension. They get no days off – no weekends, no holiday, no sick leave.

Their morning shift begins at 6 a.m., but the general public does not want them working when they are awake, so the sweepers prefer to clean streets beforehand. Starting at 4 a.m., they work until 7 p.m. for US$100 per month, leaving them no opportunity to work any other part-time job. Thus they are kept poor, with no opportunity to provide quality education to their children, who
perpetuate the cycle as they too become sweepers.

Murdered Sweeper
The deep, culturally-rooted disparagement Christian sanitation workers suffer was apparent in another incident in May. Abbas Masih, 36, was cleaning the streets when he was murdered for not picking up trash quickly enough, human rights advocates said.

Eyewitnesses said Masih was cleaning streets in the Pir Maki area of Lahore on May 21 when Muhammad Imran, an Arain or agricultural caste member who worked at a flower shop, told Masih to pick up dried leaves and flowers from in front of the shop. Masih told him that he would gather them up when he came back from the end of the street.

“How can a Chuhra argue with me?” Imran said, and he took out a knife used at the flower shop and shoved it into Masih’s heart, according to the witnesses. Masih fell. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Two brothers who own the shop, Muhammad Tariq and Muhammad Shehzad, told Compass that Imran had opened the store that morning. Imran asked Masih to pick up a small pile of dried leaves and flowers and take them away with the garbage, they said.

As witnesses also noted, they said Masih told him that he would pick up the trash upon his return from the end of the street. Imran insisted that he pick up the pile immediately.

“Imran called him names and then took out the knife and stabbed the heart of Masih,” Shehzad said, adding that he was at home at the time but heard about it from another who came home from the scene of the incident. “I rushed to the spot, picked Masih up, put him in a rickshaw and rushed him to the Mayo Hospital. I also phoned the emergency police, Rescue 15, and informed the shop that Muhammad Imran must not be allowed to go, as Masih had passed away in the hospital.”

He said that Masih was “a very good person.”

The Lower Mall police station registered a First Information Report (FIR) only after several Christian leaders protested.

Although Masih had worked with SWM for 16 years, he remained a work-charge employee, so his family was not eligible for financial assistance upon his death. Several Christian leaders protested to the Chief Minister of Punjab Province, whose office in turn wrote to the SWM.

Based on feedback from the chief minister’s secretariat, in a June 9 letter the SWM responded to the Christian leaders: “It is the policy of the government to grant financial assistance to the family of deceased civil servants, and work charge employees do not fall under the definition of civil servants. However, on the death of work charge employees during their engagement, it is the practice to pay financial assistance after getting the approval of the Chief Minister as a special case.”

The chief minister has not responded to the request, and Christians said there is little possibility that he will consider it.

Though Christians account for 90 percent of sewage workers and an even high percentage of sweepers, they make up only 2.45 percent of Pakistan’s population, which is more than 95 percent Muslim, according to Operation World. Masih’s widow, Rukhsana Masih, said that she and her family members had feared filing a police report about the case – Pakistani police are notorious for falsely charging or otherwise harassing marginalized minorities like Christians – and that they were too poor to retain a lawyer. The Community Development Initiative, an affiliate of European Centre for Law and Justice, has since allayed her fears about the legal process and offered to assist her, and she has agreed to pursue justice.

Overlapping Religions
When the Indian subcontinent was divided in 1947 and Pakistan was carved out in the name of Islam, ultimately there was a merging of Brahmanic Hinduism’s ritual impurity with Islamic ceremonial uncleanness in regard to sweepers – almost all of whom were Hindu “untouchables” who converted to Christianity in the late 19th century.

This synthesis, however, came about over time. Initially the founding father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had no notion of bringing religion into the sphere of political life. He was also an advocate of ending caste-based discrimination. With Jinnah’s early death and the use of Islam for political gain by migrating, Urdu-speaking leaders who previously had no political bases here – in particular the first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan – over six decades Islam permeated every aspect of life: social, political, economic and legal.

After Pakistan became fundamentally Islamic, Muslims confused the notion of ceremonial uncleanness – considered temporary in nature in Islamic jurisprudence – with the Brahmanic notion of ritual impurity, considered innate and permanent. Islam forbids eating and drinking with a kafir or infidel, but it allows it with the “people of the Book.” But as caste-based “untouchability” became confused with the Islamic notion of ceremonial uncleanness, Christians also came to be seen as ritually polluting a person or a thing.

Thus contempt toward Christians is deeply rooted, and there is no legislation to arrest this hatred. Rather, the state appears to want to keep Christians in this degrading occupation. Several job advertisements from government departments clearly state that sweeper candidates must be non-Muslim; some even specify that they must be Christians.

The Pakistani government hasn’t evolved any modern system of maintaining hygiene in metropolitan areas, so Christian sweepers are forced to collect and discard garbage under filthy conditions. Rotten and stinking garbage is a source of several contagious diseases, and most of the sweepers have respiratory and skin problems. A large number of them suffer from tuberculosis and hepatitis B.

One reason Sahotra is struggling to get these workers full employee status is that as temporary workers they are not entitled to any Social Security Hospital. They are not considered government employees and hence are not entitled to treatment in hospitals for government employees.

The same situation prevails at the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA), which maintains the sewage system, where about 90 percent of workers are Christians. They face extremely dangerous work conditions. When sewer lines clog because they are too small, these workers are not provided any protective gear as they sometimes dive 30 to 50 feet below ground into manholes filled with dirty and toxic water. When a sewer line gets unclogged, the strong flow sometimes carries away the worker.

Several sanitation workers have lost their lives due to toxic gasses in manholes. Overall, hundreds of people have lost their lives working for WASA, but their families do not receive the benefits that other government employees get because the workers do not have regular status despite working decades for the department.

Caste-Based Blasphemy
One reason missionaries had such success in converting area Hindus to Christianity in the late 19th century was that conversion offered the community a way to socioeconomic as well as religious emancipation.

Although a large number of Christians managed to escape the bondage by attaining education, still an overwhelming number of Christians were caught in an occupation that society rendered humiliating and degrading.

Several cases of Christians falsely charged under Pakistan’s “blasphemy” laws have been rooted in such caste-based discrimination.

Asia Noreen (also known as Asia Bibi), sentenced to death in November 2010 for allegedly insulting the prophet of Islam, was working in the fields picking fruit when she took water from a bucket for all workers. Her co-workers argued that she had polluted the water by touching it, and that the water would be drinkable only if she converted to Islam. When she answered, they ensnared her in a blasphemy case.

Remnant Hindu Brahmanic notions of untouchability combined with Islamic fervor for conversion in Pakistan also figured in accusations of blasphemy against Rubina Bibi in Alipur Chatta, Punjab Province. She had bought ghee, an Indian oil used for cooking, but when she felt it was adulterated, she told the shopkeeper to return it and give her money back. The shopkeeper argued that the oil had been polluted for having been poured into the bowl of a Christian, so it could never be returned. The ensuing argument veered into religious issues that ultimately invoked Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

The hierarchical sense of superiority that marked Imran’s alleged murder of Abbas Masih was also present in the ransacking of Christians’ homes in Bahmaniwala, Kasur, in June 2009. Trolley driver Sardar Masih asked Muhammad Hussain to remove the motorbike that he had parked in the middle of the road. Hussain refused, asking how a “Chuhra” could give him an order.

The argument grew into a brawl between two families, with the inevitable accusation from the Muslims that the Christians had committed blasphemy. The entire Christian population of the village fled, and Muslims ransacked their houses.

www.compassdirect.org

The above news analysis was written by Asif Aqeel, director of the Community Development Initiative, a human rights group affiliated with the European Centre for Law and Justice.

Contact Asif Aqeel
Director Community Development Initiative
83-S Block, Model Town Extension
Cell: +92-0300-400-1650
Office: +92-042-583-2641
Fax: 92-042-583-2642
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Killer of blasphemy accused gets death

FAISALABAD, April 18: An anti-terrorism court on Monday sentenced to death a man who had gunned down two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy. The court also imposed a fine of Rs4 million.

Maqsood alias Soodi had been convicted of killing Sajid and his brother Rashid and injuring police inspector Mohammad Hussain on July 7 last year.

The convict was also sentenced to 10-year imprisonment each under Section 7-C of the ATA and 324 of the PPC and a fine of Rs200,000. Under Section 337-D, he will pay Rs500,000 Arsh (compensation) to the injured inspector and serve a 10-year term.

In July last year, the Civil Lines police had registered a blasphemy case against the two brothers on charges of distributing handwritten blasphemous pamphlets and arrested them.

Maqsood had killed the brothers near the City Police Office when a police team was taking them to the Civil Lines police station after producing them in a court.

By Our Staff Correspondent | From the Newspaper
Dawn.com
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Bin Laden sets alarm bells ringing

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD – After a prolonged lull, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has launched a series of covert operations in the rugged Hindu Kush mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan following strong tip-offs that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been criss-crossing the area in the past few weeks for high-profile meetings in militant redoubts.

The US has been on Bin Laden’s trail ever since he fled Afghanistan when the US invaded the country in 2001 to oust the Taliban, but the 54-year-old with a US$50 million reward on his head has always remained several steps in front.

Asia Times Online has learned that decision-makers have put a lot of weight on the information on Bin Laden’s movements as it
has come from multiple intelligence agencies, in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. For at least two years, little credible news has emerged of Bin Laden’s movements and motives. Now, intelligence officials believe they have top-grade accounts as they come from the inner circles of militant camps.

Officials are said to be “stunned” by the visibility of Bin Laden’s movements, and their frequency, in a matter of a few weeks in the outlawed terrain of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the most unprecedented reports about him since he evaded the US in the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan in 2001.

The development has fueled speculation in intelligence circles that al-Qaeda could be planning another major attack along the lines of the September 11, 2001, assault on New York and Washington, and the July 2007 foiled bomb attack in London.

However, extensive investigations by Asia Times Online, including exchanges within al-Qaeda’s camps, point in another direction: given the nature of Bin Laden’s meetings, this appears to be the beginning of a new era for a broader struggle in which al-Qaeda, through its Laskhar al-Zil (Shadow Army), will try to capitalize on the Arab revolts and the Palestinian struggle and also revitalize and redefine its role in Afghanistan.

A meeting in Bajaur
Several weeks ago, Bin Laden is reported to have met with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the legendary Afghan mujahid and founder and leader of the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) political party and paramilitary group, in a militant camp in thick jungle on the fringes of Kunar and Bajaur provinces in Afghanistan. The encounter was publicized by leaks from the HIA’s inner circle and the news was circulated within militant camps in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area via top-level Pakistani militant commanders in Bajaur.

Despite him being an ally in the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban led by Mullah Omar have always been skeptical about Hekmatyar’s intentions, while Bin Laden and some other al-Qaeda leaders view him differently. Hekmatyar’s representatives of the HIA have been in direct active negotiations with the Americans and have also brokered limited ceasefire agreements with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden fought alongside Hekmatyar in the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s and they remained in contact during Bin Laden’s days in Sudan, where he had settled in 1992. When Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, he stayed in regions that were controlled by warlords loyal to Hekmatyar.

Intelligence sources privy to the meeting in Bajaur said Bin Laden could not afford to meet Hekmatyar simply for a dinner party, which was hosted by a Pakistani militant commander of Salafi tendencies and who was a member of the HIA during the Soviet jihad.

“The talks appeared to discuss some grand strategy and Osama bin Laden aims to take Gulbuddin Hekmatyar on board, especially as Hekmatyar’s commanders have brokered ceasefire agreements with NATO forces in Afghanistan and Hekmatyar’s representatives have been negotiating a truce with the Americans,” an intelligence source told Asia Times Online.

Beyond terror operations
Adding to the view of the importance of Bin Laden’s meeting with Hekmatyar is that it took place when the interest of the CIA and its special forces had already been piqued by reports of the al-Qaeda leader’s movements in Kunar and Nuristan for meetings with various militant commanders and al-Qaeda bigwigs. Bin Laden would have been aware of the dangers and was obviously prepared to take the risk.

While intelligence agencies might be involved in a guessing game about Bin Laden’s plans and a possible grand al-Qaeda operation, his movements can be read in the perspective of recent discourse in al-Qaeda circles and a major shift in its policies.

International Islamic militancy that had its roots in the decade-long war against the Soviets in the 1980s was broadly divided into two main schools of thought; both considered themselves righteous despite embodying contradictory themes. These were doctrines of armed struggle espoused by Palestinian Sunni Islamic scholar and theologian Dr Abdullah Azzam, and Egyptian ideologue and Bin Laden’s deputy, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Azzam preached in favor of defensive jihad by Muslims to help the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets. He firmly believed in a broader Muslim bloc including Muslim ruling establishments and never supported revolt against Muslim regimes. Despite being Palestinian with Jordanian nationality and a background in the Muslim Brotherhood, Azzam kept himself aloof from the Palestinian revolt against the Jordanian monarchy in September 1970 (called Black September).

Azzam was very close to the Saudi Arabian royal family and considered it essential to lobby it for support of Islamic armed movements like the Afghan resistance against the Soviets and the Palestinian resistance against Israel. He struggled to achieve unity among Muslim rulers and Islamists to resist Western hegemony. He was less dogmatic than others in his strategic purview.

After Azzam’s assassination in Pakistan in 1989, Zawahiri emerged as the main ideologue of Islamic armed opposition. Coming from the same ideological background of the Muslim Brotherhood as Azzam, Zawahiri faced an entirely different world after the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s when, under American instructions, Muslim regimes were intolerant of Islamic militancy.

Zawahiri therefore promoted the idea of ideological divides within the Muslim world, and encouraged revolts and terrorism to polarize societies to such a point of chaos that they would be unmanageable and amenable to Western intervention. It was believed that such intervention would open the gates for a battle between the West and the Muslim world.

Like Azzam, Zawahiri is not too dogmatic, but he encouraged narrow ideological views in resistance movements as a strategy to boost revolts against Muslim-majority states.

Of the two schools of thought, Azzam’s has never been criticized and is respected by all while Zawahiri’s has come under heavy fire from mainstream Muslim scholars and intelligentsia. Zawahiri’s adherents had no argument in his defense other than him operating under the law of necessity.

A recent ideological discourse within al-Qaeda’s ranks shot down Zawahiri’s arguments. This was sparked by key al-Qaeda ideologues and commanders such as Sulaiman Abu al-Gaith (see Broadside fired at al-Qaeda leaders Asia Times Online, December 10, 2010) and Saif al-Adel.

Adel emphasized that while polarization within the Muslim world was essential after 9/11 to gather strength behind al-Qaeda, nowadays, especially in light of the great Arab revolt, there was a need to switch to Azzam’s viewpoint that sees no need for polarization within Muslim-majority states viz-a-viz the Muslim world’s confrontation against Western hegemony.

After this, al-Qaeda began a new phase with the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian groups to revive its old contacts and establish a new nexus for a joint struggle against Western interests in the Muslim world.

Bin Laden’s meeting with Hekmatyar and other militant commanders in the Hindu Kush can be seen as a part of this new war in which al-Qaeda aims to involve the whole Muslim nation.

Hekmatyar’s HIA has been a part of al-Qaeda’s Laskhar al-Zil, which comprises elite guerrillas. Possibly, al-Qaeda aims to revitalize its operations in Afghanistan, and throughout the world, along with mainstream resistance groups (sons of the soil or Ibnul Balad) and in addition to Islamic political parties.

While fears attached to Bin Laden’s unprecedented visibility and movement for a grand al-Qaeda operation cannot completely be dismissed, it is more possible that al-Qaeda will undertake both worldwide terror operations and join forces with mainstream Muslim groups.

From http://www.atimes.com/

Information provided by
Ijaz Syed
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