Govt stops action on prisoners’ swap treaties with countries

ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, Pakistan stopped on Sunday implementation of agreements on swapping convicted prisoners with various countries.

5506326977841“Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has stopped the ministries of interior and foreign affairs as well as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from making any progress in cases under any such agreement till the formulation of a new and transparent policy,” says a brief announcement by the interior ministry.

The country is reported to have entered into prisoners’ swap treaties with several countries, including the UK, UAE, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Spain.

The decision has been taken after reports that a number of convicted persons, who had been brought to Pakistan from jails in some foreign countries, managed to get themselves freed with the help of government officials without completing their sentence in the country, which was mandatory under the treaties.

“Investigations carried out on the directives of the interior minister reveal that a number of Pakistanis, who had been convicted of committing heinous crimes in other countries and brought back to Pakistan under extradition treaties, were illegally released from jails in connivance with officials of the interior ministry and provincial governments,” says the announcement.

The interior minister has also ordered that an inquiry into such cases be completed in one week and the officials responsible for it be arrested. He said the officials who had earned a bad name for the country deserved no concession at all.

Earlier this month, the FIA had arrested in Ecuador a Pakistani convicted by a British court in Feb 2004 for murdering a man in the UK. The interior ministry claimed that other culprits in the case had already been arrested in the UAE and Pakistan.

The arrested man, Rizwan Habib, had been sentenced to life in prison at Old Bailey for having beaten to death the son of a Pakistani business tycoon on Dec 16, 2001, and dumping his body in a river in Surrey and stealing his identity documents.

Habib and his gang then went on a spending spree in Las Vegas, running up bills of thousands of pounds on the victim’s credit cards before heading to Australia, Dubai and Canada.

The British police tracked him down and he was arrested in Canada and deported to the UK.

Under an agreement on exchange of prisoners signed with Britain, Habib and his accomplices were to complete the rest of their sentence in Pakistan, but they were fraudulently released days after having been brought to the country.

On the orders of Chaudhry Nisar, the officials of the interior ministry and Punjab police who had helped in the illegal release of the convicts were arrested.

The agreement signed by the PPP government in 2010 was, however, abolished by the UK in 2012 after the fraudulent release of the convicts.

The British government restored the agreement last year after the measures taken by the interior minister.

Christians protest deadly Taliban church attacks

FAISALABAD/LAHORE: Members of the Christian community on Monday took to the streets in Faisalabad and Lahore to register their protest over a Taliban attack on two churches in Lahore which left 15 people dead and more than 70 injured.

The bombings on Sunday occurred during prayers at two churches located around half a kilometre apart in the city’s Youhanabad neighbourhood that is home to more than 100,000 Christians.

Approximately 100 protesters gathered at Faisalabad’s Millat road today where they burnt tires and attacked a rickshaw. The protesters also blocked the Kamalpur Interchange on Faisalabad motorway.

Protesters in Lahore - DawnNews screen grab
Protesters in Lahore – DawnNews screen grab

The protesters then headed to Zila Council Chowk where they are expected to continue their demonstrations. Protests have been taking place in various parts of Faisalabad since Sunday.

Following an attack on a metro bus in Lahore, authorities shortened bus routes today as approximately 200 people continued to protest in various parts of the provincial capital such as Youhanabad, Nishtar Colony and Bund road.

Metro Bus Authority Managing Director Sibtain told DawnNews that approximately 6,000 people had travelled on the metro bus since 6am. He requested the protesters to remain peaceful, adding that he is with them in their time of sorrow.

Women have also gathered for a sit-in protest and prayers for the deceased led by a priest in Youhanabad.

“The purpose of the sit-in is to shed light on the fact that the Christian community should be given protection and peaceful living conditions,” one of the protesters told DawnNews.

People gathered to record their protest against the deadly church attacks - DawnNews screen grab
People gathered to record their protest against the deadly church attacks – DawnNews screen grab

Read more: 15 killed in Taliban attack on Lahore churches

Sunday’s attacks were the worst on the community since a devastating 2013 double suicide-bombing in Peshawar that killed 82 people. That attack came months after more than 3,000 protesters torched some 100 houses as they rampaged through Joseph Colony, another Christian neighbourhood of Lahore, following blasphemy allegations against a Christian man.

The thousands of Christian protesters who clashed with police on Sunday attacked their cars with stones and sticks, as women wept and beat their heads and chests.

The protesters, some wearing crosses round their necks, later turned on the city’s bus rapid transit system — a signature project of the ruling PML-N party of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Christians make up around two per cent of Pakistan’s mainly Muslim population of 180 million. They have been targeted in attacks and riots in recent years, often over allegations of blasphemy.

Miracle-warriors of Taxila

550549d541979Sculptors and stone carvers known as “miracle-warrior of Taxila” who are famous across the globe for their excellent masterpieces from Gandhara art by producing hundreds of unique replicas on black and schist stone.
Gandhara Art, a contribution of the inhabitants of Gandhara, shows influences from the main land Indians, Greeks, Romans and Persian artists. The art appeared in this region in the 1st century BC, strengthened in the 1st century AD, flourished till 550549d399ef5550549d5419795th century and lingered on till 8th century. The purpose of this art was the propagation of Buddhism through the images carved and made in stone, stucco, terracotta and bronze, mostly enshrined in the stupas and monasteries throughout Gandhara. According to renowned intellectual, archaeologist and historian Prof AH Dani, “the art presents a heterogeneous social picture of the time- a medley of foreign immigrants, Greek, Scythian, Parthian, Kushan, Huns and Turk, al intermixed with the local populace in the mundane affairs of the world. Above all the primary aim of the art is not to extol the kings or their ministers but to adore the Buddha, his whole life from birth to 550549d4866bbdeath and the preaching that he delivered to mankind for the observation of moral ways of life and for salvation”. Despite the vagaries of centuries, the art of stone carving and sculpture making was shifted from generations to generations.
Pakistan is land from where the Gandhara art in which Buddha image on black stone carving was flourished across the world and its is artists from Taxila whom master pieces are now decorated in the personal museums of the people in Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, France, UK and Thailand .
550549da45aeb 550549e244d3eTaxila, a city situated in Pakistan is the abode of many splendid Buddhist establishments. Taxila, the main centre of Gandhara, is over 3,000 years old. Taxila had attracted Alexander the great from Macedonia in 326 BC, with whom the influence of Greek culture came to this part of the world. Taxila later came under the Mauryan dynasty and reached a remarkable matured level of development under the great Ashoka. During this time Taxila important center for culture, trade and learning. The Gandhara civilization was not only the centre of spiritual influence but also the cradle of the world famous Gandhara culture, art and learning. It was from these centers that a unique art of sculpture originated which is known as Gandhara Art all over the world. Buddhism left a monumental and rich legacy of art and architecture in Pakistan. Despite the vagaries of centuries, the art of stone carving and sculpture making was shifted from generations to generations but today it face extinction due to socio-economic condition, unjust laws of federal department of archaeology and museums and fleecing by the national and international smugglers.
These warriors carves replicas of Gandhara art in such a way that even the sharpest of the       cognoscenti can tell the difference between the real and the copy, except that the latter has a fresh look. Although, if required, they can make his work look 3,000 years old.  After visit to their workshops one see that fascinated admirers watched them open-mouthed as they plied their minute hammers and chisels on black and schist stone. They were working from memory and did not falter at any point or make a mistake.
Taxila was known as ‘city of artisans’ because of its cultural and historical importance and housing various arts and artisans, but now it is fast losing its glory as majority of arts for which the city was famous are leaving the profession due to lack of patronage by the government and national institutions, exploiting by the smugglers mafia and religio-social pressure from the society.
The local sculptors and stone carvers demanded that their carvings may be issued necessary certificates so that their export would be facilitated, as it would not only earn exchequer for national kitty but also survive the different schools of sculptors and stone carvers from further extinction. It is need of the hour that Pakistani Ministry of culture and department of archaeology and museums should join hands to soften the rules and allowed these miracle-warriors of Taxila to export their masterpieces abroad especially where Buddhism is practicing religion.
550549f774565 The threats from religious extremists, social pressure, exploiting from the influential smugglers mafia and lack of patronage from the national and international art institutions, Taxila is fast losing its sculptor which is world famous for carving Buddha images and Gandhara art.

Acquired the money by selling property to Rehman Malik’s brother: Ayyan

Ayyan apologised to court saying she had no knowledge of the law barring citizens from flying out with a large sum. Photo courtesy: Ayyan Facebook official page

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani supermodel Ayyan, who is currently detained in a case of money laundering for attempting to fly abroad with US $500,000, divulged before a Custom Court in Rawalpindi that she acquired the sum by selling a property to Former interior minister Rehman Malik’s brother Khalid Malik.

Khalid Malik was allegedly set to travel with Ayyan on the same flight on Saturday morning when she was detained.

Judge Mumtaz Hassan Chaudhry presided over a hearing of Ayyan’s bail plea during which she submitted a written response to the court.

The model apologised, and asserted that she had no knowledge of the law that bars citizens from carrying an undeclared amount exceeding $10,000 to a foreign country.

Ayyan’s father Raja Hafeez, who was present at the hearing, claimed that the allegation against his daughter was “nothing but propaganda”.

He also requested the court to investigate why Ayyan chose to sell her property to Khalid Malik.

Ayyan was booked to travel on a flight to Dubai from Benazir Bhutto International Airport Saturday morning when Customs officials recovered about US $500,000 from her luggage.

According to the Airport Security Force (ASF), officials spotted the currency tucked away in the pockets of a suitcase she had in her carry-on luggage.

Deputy Collector Customs Naveed Bugvi told nnp ASF officers stopped Ayyan at the Rawal Lounge after baggage scanners detected an anomaly.

“Customs officials were called and Customs Collector Zeba Azhar found $506,800 in the suitcase,” he said. Mr Bugvi said an FIR was registered under the Customs Act 1969.

Following the registration of a case, Ayyan was sent to the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital for a medical checkup.

The court reserved its decision on the bail plea.