Tag Archives: Pakistan
Pakistan urges US apology over strike, which has killed at least 35 civilians in the North Waziristan
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January 05, 2011 (KATAKAMI / ABC NEWS) ) — When he got to work this morning, police officer Mumtaz Qadri asked to be assigned to theGovernor of Punjab‘s security detail. Qadri was a member of Punjab’s elite police force, he had guarded the Governor before, and he got the assignment he was looking for.
As Governor Salman Taseer made a morning visit to the popular and upscale Khosar Market in the capital, Islamabad, Qadri was the lead security guard. The governor had a meal at one of the market’s restaurants, and was getting into his car when Mumtaz Qadri turned and opened fire, at close range, on the man he was supposed to have been protecting.
Salman Taseer died almost instantly. Hospital officials say they found nine bullets in the Governor’s corpse.
The attack would have been a tragic and compelling story anywhere — but the dateline and motive for the killing could mean grave trouble for Pakistan, for moderation, and for the United States.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton today called his death “a great loss.” In a statement she said, “I had the opportunity to meet Governor Taseer in Pakistan and I admired his work to promote tolerance and the education of Pakistan’s future generations.”
The United States remains committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan as they persevere in their campaign to bring peace and stability to their country.
Salman Taseer was Governor of Pakistan’s most important province, a bold and controversial politician, and a voice for moderation in an increasingly militant and anti-American nation. Taseer was a senior leader of the late Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, and it appears he met the same fate as Ms. Bhutto for some of the same reasons.
Today’s killing, as ABC’s Nick Schifrin put it, “isn’t just a terrorist act or a political assassination. It is a violent proclamation by Pakistani radicals that they will kill anyone who argues Pakistan should become a more secular, progressive state.”
Gov. Taseer and his family lived a Western lifestyle, and he recently advocated changing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which call for a mandatory death sentence for anyone convicted of insulting Islam.
Today Qadri, Taseer’s killer, told police he had decided on the assassination three days ago, and was proud to have killed “a blasphemer,” according to investigators.
Some reports suggest that his fellow bodyguards congratulated the killer; others say none of the others raised a finger while the bullets flew. The other guards have all been taken into custody for questioning.
The focus of that questioning, no doubt, will be the possibility that radicals have infiltrated Pakistan’s security services. The killer was a trained commando — an elite officer. If he was able to get himself inside the commandos, there’s a fear that radicals can infect all levels of the police and, to a lesser extent, the Pakistani army.
The supposedly liberal and secularPakistan People’s Party — which President Zardari leads and Taseerbelonged to — had already cowed to religious parties’ requests and promised not to touch the blasphemy laws. Taseer’s death can therefore be seen as an even more brazen and appalling statement by the radicals that they will go to any extremes against a more secular, liberal, society.
The site of the assassination underscores the point: Khosar Market is associated strongly with Westerners and elite Pakistanis who enjoy Starbucks-style coffee shops. It’s as Western as it gets in Islamabad.
Finally, and perhaps most worrisome of all for the U.S., Governor Taseer’s killing comes as the government is fighting for its survival after two parties withdrew from the coalition.
Just today the main opposition party gave the government three days to present policy fixes for the nation — or face a no-confidence move in the parliament. Ironically, the assassination has provided the government a little breathing room; that three-day ultimatum has been postponed, until the 40-day mourning period for Governor Taseer is over.
For now, one of the United States’ most crucial allies — already plagued by corruption, grave economic problems and a powerful insurgency — must face the prospect of serious and long-term instability. And the possibility that moderation in Pakistan — in short supply already — may have been among the assassin’s victims. (*)
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December 28, 2010 (KATAKAMI / AlbuquerquEexpress.Com) — A key witness of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination probe left for the United States without taking permission from the Pakistan government.
Dr Musadiq Khan was the principal of Rawalpindi Medical College, and examined the wounds of Benazir when brought to the general hospital on Decemeber 27, 2007, the Dawn reported.
Secretary of the Punjab Health Department, Fawad Hassan said that the department received Musadiq’s leave application after his departure from the country, which was unacceptable.
The case had been forwarded to the Punjab chief minister, the paper said.
Dr Musadiq had claimed that the cause of Benazir’s death was the wound from the lever of vehicle’s sunroof rather than the bullet wound.
He was facing investigation from the Punjab Health Department for allegedly misusing authorities and indiscipline. (*)
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December 26, 2010 (KATAKAMI / VOA) — U.S. President Barack Obama has condemned a suicide attack against members of an anti-Taliban tribe in northwestern Pakistan.
The Saturday attack in Pakistan’s Bajur district killed at least 45 people and wounded more than 100 others. Children were among the victims.
A woman dressed in a burqa lobbed a grenade at a World Food Program distribution center, charged into the crowd and blew herself up.
Mr. Obama said the deadly attack at the food distribution center is an affront to the people of Pakistan, and to all humanity. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, as well as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have also condemned the attack.
Officials said most of the victims at the center in the town of Khar were members of the Salarzai tribe. The tribe has backed military action against the Taliban and even formed its own militia to help force them from the area.
Officials say many of the victims had been displaced by the second of two military campaigns against the Taliban.
There had been conflicting reports about the sex of the bomber. Male suicide bombers have used burqas in the past to hide their explosives, but local officials said they had confirmed this attacker was a woman.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The World Food Program said none of its staff was wounded.
Bajur district is close to the Afghan border in a region U.S. officials say is a haven for Taliban and al-Qaida militants.
Meanwhile, government officials said Saturday 40 militants were killed during a Pakistani military air raid in the Mohmand tribal region. (*)