Three metro stations vandalised in Youhannabad riots

LAHORE: As several areas of the city remain besieged by demonstrators two days after the Taliban attack on churches in Lahore’s Youhanabad neighbourhood, an enraged mob on Tuesday vandalised three Metro Bus stations and destroyed a bus.

5507ecf3af641The Metro Bus station in Youhanabad reportedly incurred the worst damage while those of Nishtar Colony and Dhulwa neighbourhoods were partially damaged.

According to authorities, ticket-vending machines worth Rs10 million were smashed to pieces by the violent crowd.

The ongoing violence which took place as funeral services of those slain in the church attacks were being held, are in spite of the presence of security officials in large numbers.

Episodes of mob violence have been taking place for the past two days, and were also the cause behind the suspension of motorway bus service.

Thousands of Christian protesters burnt tyres and attacked cars and petrol pumps with stones and sticks hours after the attacks.

The loss incurred by the National Treasury due to the destruction of infrastructure by the mob is estimated in millions of rupees.

At least 15 people were killed and more than 70 injured when two Taliban suicide bombers attacked churches in Lahore on Sunday, sparking mob violence in which two other suspected militants died.

The bombings 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, officials said.

Sunday’s attacks — claimed by the Taliban’s splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar — were the worst on the community since a devastating 2013 double suicide-bombing in Peshawar that killed 82 people.

Prime Minister calls for CCI meeting after 9 month gap

ISLAMABAD: Amid concerns that the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had not convened for over nine months, Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif has called a meeting of the CCI tomorrow at the PM office in Islamabad.

5507e09366f6cA spokesperson to the PM told NNP that the meeting would be chaired by the prime minister himself, and would be attended by the chief ministers of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan.

Additionally, chief secretaries and federal ministers who are members of the council would also be in attendance.

The meeting is expected to touch upon many issues of national interest. CCI meetings typically tackle a long agenda and are regarded as the highest decision-making forum in the government.

The discussion of controversial decisions such as the allocation of natural resources and the provincial budget is often reserved for council meetings as opposed to cabinet meetings.

Chief ministers at the CCI are expected to tackle the rationing of electricity and gas by province, and the census.

Earlier this week, members of the PPP, Syed Naveed Qamar, Shazia Marri, Dr Azra Fazal, Nafisa Shah and Belum Hasnain stated in a call-attention notice that the non-convening of the CCI meeting for nine months was “causing grave concern amongst the public”.

The PPP workers criticised the government for the delay in convening the CCI meeting, and accused the rulers of violating Article 153 of the Constitution.

Under sub-clause 3 of Article 153, the Council of Common Interests is required to meet at least once in three months. This provision was inserted in the constitution by means of the 18th Amendment.

The opposition wanted the CCI to take up a number of important national issues including the national census, privatisation of state institutions, and the change of route of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor.

Now, there is a fresh meeting reportedly scheduled for this week and perhaps, with the matter being taken up in parliament, it will finally be held.

Just a sample of the more than one dozen items on this week’s agenda further underlines the CCI’s relevance and importance. The population and housing census is to be discussed, as is the permanent absorption by the provincial governments of federal government employees transferred under the 18th Amendment.

In addition, amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code; the Indus River System Act, 1992 (which deals with water distribution between the provinces); and the federal petroleum policy are to be discussed.

Each one of those agenda items could consume an entire meeting by itself. Now, owing to the tardiness and neglect of the federal government, they are all on the agenda of the same meeting.

The neglect of the CCI also underlines a wider problem: the PML-N government’s almost total lack of interest in institution building and preference for ad hoc, extra-parliamentary and extra-institutional decision-making.

Mob lynching is ‘worst kind of terrorism’, says Nisar

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has reiterated his strong condemnation of the mob that brutally killed two men in the aftermath of the deadly church bombings in Lahore’s Youhanabad area, saying that the lynching witnessed on Sunday is “the worst form of terrorism”.

5507f8f3a3170Nisar, speaking in the National Assembly on Tuesday, invoked the example of earlier attacks on imambargahs and mosques, and said that a violent mob reaction like that in Youhanabad was not witnessed in those incidents.

“A similar incident occurred right in the heart of Paris where a synagogue was attacked,” Nisar added, “But the minority Jews did not react violently in the French capital.”

While he acknowledged that minorities have been targeted in the country for the last 14 years, he added that heartrending incidents across the world do not trigger violent reactions like in Lahore.

Outline of Chaudhry Nisar’s address in Parliament:

  • Those involved in Youhanabad lynching will be punished
  • Not possible to secure every mosque, imambargah in the country
  • Shafqat Hussain case should not be politicised
  • Call for country to become an open, liberal, independent and democratic society

“Shias were attacked in Shikarpur and Quetta but no reaction was witnessed like the one in Lahore — what message did the burning of two men send to the world?” he said, adding that the burning of the two men and damage to government installations is the “worst form of terrorism”.

He added that the mob was promoting the agenda of terrorists. “The intention of the terrorists is to spread sectarian strife. Naeem was an innocent citizen,” Nisar said, referring to one of the deceased men who has been identified by his family.

Nisar expressed appreciation for the efforts of senior Christian leaders of Lahore to defuse the situation, but warned that strict action would be taken against those who lynched and burnt the two men. “The incident is a cause of humiliation for our country, police, courts and government.”

“We have recorded the faces of many culprits courtesy of the media, we shall take action against each and every one of them.”

He highlighted that the dead include “seven Muslims as well”, although he soon added, “I am giving this statement only to clarify the records since the death of one person, be it Muslim or Christian, is tantamount to the death of all humanity.”

‘Impossible to secure all places of worship’

Nisar admitted that it was not possible for authorities to secure each mosque and place of worship in the country.

He said police did not have enough manpower to depute three to four personnel at every place of worship let alone schools.

“We cannot shutdown our markets, schools or places of worship. This is what the terrorists want. We have to become an open, liberal, independent and democratic society,” said the federal interior minister adding that, “We have limitations, but there has been improvement.”

He also appealed for focus to be shifted on the improvement which has taken place in the country rather than on individual incidents.

Nisar said that the country is in a state of war and the nation will have to unite and remain prepared for any threat.

He appreciated the efforts of the parliament in maintaining unison in the country and said that through the combined efforts of the nation the terrorists will be sent to hell.

‘Do not politicise Shafqat Hussain case’

Earlier, the federal interior minister spoke about the issue pertaining to the execution of a condemned prisoner, Shafqat Hussain, who is said to have been juvenile at the time of committing the crime and appealed that the case should not be politicised.

“I respect the reaction to the issue but have to ask why the issue was not raised in and outside the courts when the ATC had handed down the punishment in 2004 or when the appeal was presented in a high court in 2006 and in the apex court in 2007,” Nisar said.

He further asked as to why had anyone not questioned the rejection of the convict’s appeal by the then president of Pakistan in 2012.

The federal interior minister said that the government had forwarded the proposal of conducting a DNA test of the prisoner and added that, “The Sindh government has written to us today that the DNA test of the convict cannot be conducted since it would negate all previous legal proceedings.”

He said that if the PPP or any other party wants a stay on the execution then they should also advise a way to prove that the age of the convict recorded in the official documents is incorrect.

Nisar reminded that any action in this regard would have to be taken within the next 36 hours as that is the deadline to the execution.

He also said that, “The rights of the aggrieved party have to be considered as well, as the victim was a seven-year-old boy from Karachi, as well as a Pakistani.”