Altaf speech case: Govt didn’t want to act hastily against MQM, court told

LAHORE: The ministry of interior told the Lahore High Court on Monday that the government did not want to take any action in haste against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and its London-based head for anti-state activities.

Interior Secretary Arif Khan stated this before a full bench adding that any action taken hastily could have serious repercussions as the party had its political following especially in Sindh.

The bench headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi was hearing multiple identical petitions demanding a case of high treason against Altaf Hussain and cancellation of MQM registration as a political party.

As the bench resumed hearing, the interior secretary appeared before the court flanked by Additional Attorney General Naseer Ahmad Bhutta and other law officers of the government.

Asked if any action was taken by the government on the issue, the secretary told the bench that all the provinces in general and Sindh in particular had been engaged in consultation to seek their advice about any action.

He said the consultation process was to measure the impact of the government’s action.

The bench observed, “It seems that no serious action has been taken so far.”

“The government has a visible track record of not taking action even on grave issues,” Justice Naqvi observed when Mr Bhutta argued that Article 17 (2) of the Constitution did not require the government to take action in such matter within any specific time period.

The period of 15 days given in the article was for the government to send a reference to Supreme Court after taking an action against a political party, the law officer said and added the government did not want to take any action in haste.

Responding to subsequent queries to specify the government’s actions against the party in question, the interior secretary said besides engaging the provinces in consultation, the government also sought an advice from law division on the matter.

He said the government could be able to make a decision after best possible feedback from the provinces especially Sindh.

Justice Naqvi said everybody in the country wanted to know about actions by the government especially after the Aug 22 speech delivered by the London-based leader of MQM.

“Inaction on the part of the government could have serious consequences,” the judge said in his remarks.

The secretary asked the bench to grant some more time to come up with a clear response to the queries. The bench allowed the request and directed the secretary to submit a report by Nov 10.

Advocate Aftab Virk, Abdullah Malik and others had filed petitions for cancellation of MQM’s registration as political party and action against Altaf Hussain under treason charges.

Govt drafts contingency plans for PTI’s dharna

RAWALPINDI: Both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the PML-N government are making plans for Nov 2 with the PTI asking workers to prepare for a three-day sit-in while the Special Branch of the police has given the government lists of people to arrest before the party lays siege to Islamabad.

The PTI told workers of the plans for the protest after a meeting chaired by Imran Khan on Monday night.

“Local leaders have been informed that all six roads will be closed on Nov 2. The I.J. Principle Road will be closed at CDA stop, G.T. Road at Rewat T-Chowk, Kashmir Highway at Golra Mor and Murree Road at Bhara Kahu,” a senior party leader told Dawn.

He said the Islamabad Expressway would be closed at Khanna Bridge and that the area between Faizabad and Zero Point would be used as the main sit-in site.

“This plan will be implemented if the government stops party workers and supporters from entering Islamabad. The protest has been planned for three days but the tables will be turned before Nov 4,” he said.

Govt prepares list of people to arrest ahead of protest, PTI informs workers of alternative sit-in locations

The politician said the party had asked local leaders to make food arrangements for participants of the sit-in at four points. He explained that two groups would coordinate with the district management committee for the arrangements with one group looking after food and the second ensuring workers are present at the site.

“PTI leader from Sialkot Usman Dar and Lahore MPA Shoaib Siddiqui visited the various routes on Monday morning in order to ascertain if they were suitable for the protest,” he said.

The PTI leader added that party leaders in Lahore would finance the event and that workers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Rawalpindi and Islamabad would close all roads. Workers from across the province have started arriving in the twin cities and some 350 houses have been arranged for accommodating them, he said.

On the other hand, the Special Branch has submitted three lists of 450 PTI activists in the district to the local administration and the federal government.

“The police will arrest the workers named in List A and List B, which are of PTI office-bearers and List C which includes public representatives, under the Maintenance of Public Order, in accordance with the directives of the district coordination officer,” a senior official of the City District Government Rawalpindi told Dawn.

He said the plan would be implemented after the Nov 1 hearing of the Supreme Court. The official added that the government wanted to resolve the issue via politics and had not yet asked the police to implement the plan, only to prepare ahead.

“The government does not want the PTI to have time to seek relief from the high court as the PTI has already formed a committee of lawyers for the purpose,” he added.

“A 20-member committee of lawyers has been formed which is led by Farrakh Dar and they have prepared to get party workers and leaders out in case of arrest via the courts,” said PTI Punjab North President Amir Kiani.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Kiani said the party wanted more and more people to come to Islamabad in order to pressure the “corrupt” government to step down, adding that the police will not be able to take action against party workers and leaders in the presence of thousands of supporters.

Meanwhile, former PML-N MNA Malik Shakil Awan said the ruling party would be patient and not resort to action unless someone tries to take the law in their hands.

“The PTI wants destruction and the PML-N wants development. The government is drafting strategies for dealing with the issue and will not allow for problems to be created for the government officials and residents of Islamabad and Rawalpindi,” he said.

Mr Awan added that the interior minister will be coming up with a strategy for maintaining law and order in the twin cities so that schools, hospitals and offices can remain open.

After police academy attack, Army Chief Gen Raheel reaches Quetta

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif on Tuesday reached Quetta, a morning after terrorists stormed a police training college in Balochistan’s provincial capital, killing at least 59 people, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed a police academy in Quetta, killing at least 59 people and wounding dozens more in one of the deadliest militants attacks this year.

The army chief is expected to visit a hospital to see those who were injured in the attack, sources said.

The COAS is accompanied by the Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar and the Director General Military Intelligence Major General Nadeem Zaki Manj, ISPR said.

Gen Raheel is also expected to chair a high-level security meeting during his visit where he will be briefed on the security situation in Quetta, sources told DawnNews, adding that the corps commander south, the DG ISI and the DG MI will also be in attendance.

PM Nawaz visits Quetta

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in Quetta after postponing all engagements in Islamabad,radiopakistan reported.

He is expected to chair a high-level meeting to discuss the law and order situation.

He will also visit those injured in the hospital.

‘Enemy weakened, not finished’

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar addressing a passing out parade said, “The enemy has been weakened but is not finished.”

He added, “Today the whole of Pakistan is saddened.”

“Pakistan needs heroes. The security agencies, from the Pakistan Army to the civil armed forces and the police, are making sacrifices everyday,” he said.

59 killed in twin suicide attacks as terrorists storm police training college in Quetta

Heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed a police academy in Quetta, killing at least 59 people and wounding dozens more, rescue officials said Tuesday, in one of the deadliest extremist attacks this year.

Three gunmen burst into the sprawling academy, targeting sleeping quarters home to some 700 recruits, and sent terrified young men aged between 15 and 25 fleeing.

Communication intercepts showed the attack was carried out by Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) militant group, IG Frontier Corps (FC) Major General Sher Afgan said.

The training centre houses at least 600 cadets. — AP
The training centre houses at least 600 cadets. — AP

Most of the deaths were caused when two of the attackers blew themselves up. The third was shot dead by Frontier Corps (FC) troops. At least 120 people were injured, DawnNews reported.

“I saw three men carrying Kalashnikovs… they were in camouflage and their faces were hidden,” one cadet told reporters. “They started firing and entered the dormitory but I managed to escape by climbing over a wall.”

Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti confirmed to reporters that there had been three attackers.

“They first targeted the watch tower sentry, and after exchanging fire, killed him and were able to enter the academy grounds,” he said.

The attack on the Balochistan Police College, around 20 kilometres east of Quetta, began at around 11:10pm Monday, with gunfire continuing to ring out at the site for several hours.

Major General Sher Afgan, chief of the paramilitary FC in Balochistan, which led the counter-operation, said “the attack was over in around three hours after we arrived”.

“The operation needed to be conducted with precision therefore it took us four hours to clear the area completely.”

“There were three terrorists and all of them were wearing suicide vests,” he said. “Two suicide attackers blew themselves up, which resulted in casualties, while the third one was shot dead by our troops.”

He added that the militants had been communicating with their handlers in Afghanistan.

Afgan said communication intercepts showed the attackers belonged to LJ’s Al-Alimi faction, which is affiliated with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The group itself, however, has not claimed the attack.

The area was plunged into darkness when a counter-offensive was launched, and security personnel threw up a cordon while ambulances zoomed in and out, taking the injured to hospitals. Military helicopters circled overhead.

The cadets were rescued from the college following an operation carried out by Special Services Group (SSG) commandos.

The training college is situated on Sariab Road, which is considered to be one of the most sensitive areas of Quetta. Militants have been targeting security forces in the area for almost a decade.

The training college has come under attack in the past in 2008 and 2006, with attackers firing rockets into the college playground. It covers about an acre of land located about 13 kilometres outside the main city of Quetta.

‘Darkness hindered operation’

The attackers entered the complex through the front gate after shooting the guard manning the check post.

A senior law enforcement agency’s official said assailants had fired at the police training centre from five different points.

Two terrorists entered the premises after shooting at the guard manning the checkpost near the front gate, while the third reportedly climbed the rear wall of the police centre.

“Two attackers entered through the front gate,” Senior Superintendent Police Operations Mohammad Iqbal had said earlier.

Iqbal said that the suicide jacket of one attacker was not detonated and his body was lying at the centre premises.

Initial investigations showed the terrorists had entered the hostel, he said. The SSP said that there had been trouble distinguishing friend from foe as it was dark at the time.

‘The attackers were wearing shawls’

Eyewitness says he saw three terrorists enter the barracks

An eyewitness speaking to reporters after making a narrow escape said he saw three terrorists directly enter the barracks. “They started firing. We saw them and started screaming. We ran upstairs towards an exit.”

He described the terrorists being covered in shawls.

The barracks and hostel blocks are situated deep inside the compound, making it hard to hear any sounds of gunshots from the building.

Security beefed up at hospital

The injured cadets were brought to Civil Hospital. Those in critical condition were shifted to CMH Quetta.

Extraordinary security arrangements were made in and outside the Civil Hospital to prevent any untoward incident, especially in the wake of August 8 attack when a suicide attacker targeted the hospital.

An emergency was declared in all government hospitals of the provincial capital, with the injured shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta and the Bolan Medical Complex.

Injured rushed to hospital after attack

Forces rush to site of attack

Police Training College cordoned off

In August, a suicide bombing at a Quetta hospital claimed by the militant Islamic State group and the Jamaatul Ahrar killed 73 people, including many of the city’s lawyer community who had gone there to mourn the fatal shooting of a colleague.

Balochistan is a key region for China’s ambitious $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure project linking its western province of Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea via Pakistan.

Security problems have mired CPEC in the past with numerous attacks, but China has said it is confident the Pakistani military is in control.