February 2020




Waseem Ahmad Shah February 27, 2020

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa counter terrorism department has charged former Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand with financing terrorism by including his name in a case registered last year against some officials of an international non-governmental organisation.

An anti-terrorism court, which is already trying five of the accused in the case, issued notice to Mr Mohmand on Tuesday informing him that he was charged with financing terrorism, which was a cognisable and non-bailable offence.

It directed him to surrender before it or obtain bail from any competent court of law within seven days.

The official sources said after getting the court’s notice, Mr Mohmand, who was also a former chief secretary of the province, appeared before it and submitted two surety bonds of Rs300,000 each on the court’s orders.

ATC judge Tariq Yousafzai fixed Mar 4 for the next hearing into the case asking Mr Mohmand to appear before it on all hearings.

Sahibzada Riazatul Haq, counsel for Mr Mohmand and other accused in the case, told Dawn that it was a baseless case and the CTD had so far not produced a single evidence to connect his clients with any of the terrorist outfits.

He said the prosecution had failed to bring on record any evidence about how the funds were diverted to terrorists, which was the main charge in the case.

In July 2019, the CTD had arrested regional director of INGO Human Concern International Ali Nawaz on the terror financing charge.

An FIR was registered at the CTD police station on July 4, 2019, with inspector Ilyas Khan being the complainant.

The complainant had accused some staff and board members of the NGO, including Ali Nawaz, Mohammad Farooq Awan, Shah Room and Mohammad Naeem.

The CTD had claimed that it had acted on information provided by FIA.

It added that the accused had diverted funds meant for charity work to terrorist outfits.

The case was registered under Section 11-N of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, which deals with the financing of terrorist organisations. However, sections 3 and 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, and Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Pakistan Penal Code were included in it.

The CTD claimed that millions of rupees had been transacted from 11 bank accounts of the charity, while the accused failed to provide satisfactory answers regarding those funds.

While submitting the challan of the case to the court lately, the CTD also included the name of Mr Mohmand at Serial No 6 in the list of the accused.

The court sought comments from district public prosecutor and concerned public prosecutor who gave opinion that the role assigned to Mr Mohmand in the ‘offence’ was at par with the role attributed to other accused persons who had already been facing trial.

Subsequently, the court summoned Mr Mohmand, who had remained associated with the said NGO, to face trial on Feb 25.

The court will indict him for the offence later.

Following the registration of the FIR, NGO Human Concern International had refuted the allegations and had said the finance manager concerned had provided all the relevant information to the investigation officer in the case.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2020



Editorial Updated February 27, 2020

In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India, the country’s much-trumpeted claims of being a secular republic have been thoroughly exposed as the storm troopers of the Sangh Parivar have rampaged through New Delhi. At the time of writing nearly 30 deaths had been reported in the rioting that has been going on for the past few days, ostensibly between those who oppose the new Indian citizenship law — who are predominantly Muslim — and those who favour the divisive legislation — who are mostly Hindu.

There are reports of mosques being set afire, goons barging into Muslim homes, and police officers forcing injured protesters to chant pro-Hindutva slogans. It would be naive to ask where the administration is in all of this; it is clear that the state — the Hindutva state — is part and parcel of this ugly situation. The Delhi chief minister, who belongs to a party opposed to the ruling BJP, has asked for the army to be called in and curfew to be imposed to control the situation.

At the moment, the Indian state’s primary duty should be to control the violence and prevent it from spreading further. This, of course, is not the first time India has been rattled by spasms of communal bloodletting; the slaughter of thousands of Sikhs in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination; the violence following the razing of the Babri Masjid by Sangh Parivar zealots, and the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat, when Narendra Modi was chief minister of that state, are grim reminders of India’s history of religious violence.

But this time things are different mainly because the dispensation that rules New Delhi has amidst its ranks some virulently anti-Muslim elements, while hate material can spread like wildfire through social media.

Therefore, the capital needs to take stringent steps to ensure religiously motivated violence does not spread, and specifically that India’s minorities are protected from bloodthirsty mobs. It is a tad ironic that the violence in the Indian capital was happening around the same time that US President Donald Trump was being feted at an official banquet at Rashtrapati Bhavan. What is more ironic is that Mr Trump praised Mr Modi for his commitment to religious freedom.

If the BJP government’s brutal record in India-held Kashmir, its divisive legislation, and soft corner for Muslim-baiting Hindu zealots are anything to go by, this praise is wholly unearned and the global community must have the courage to call out the Indian state for its bigotry.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2020




By Kamran Yousaf Published: February 13, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday expressed serious concerns over the US’ decision to sell an Integrated Air Defence Weapons Systems (IADWS) to India, warning that the decision would disturb strategic balance in South Asia with serious security implications for Islamabad and the region.

“Pakistan has seen the advance notice issued by United States Defence Security Cooperation Agency, notifying the State Department’s approval of Foreign Military Sale to India of an Integrated Air Defence Weapons Systems (IADWS),” Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui told the media at the weekly briefing.

“[The] sale of such sophisticated weapons system to India at this time is particularly disturbing as it would further destabilise the already volatile region,” she warned.

She said the US decision would disturb the strategic balance in South Asia with serious security implications for Pakistan and the region.

She maintained that the international community was fully aware of India’s aggressive policy designs against Pakistan and threatening statements of Indian political and military leaders.

“South Asia cannot afford an arms race and conflict. It is, therefore, incumbent upon international community to prevent further destabilisation of the region,” Aisha said.

While expressing concern over the US arms sale to India, the spokesperson also warned the international community of a possible false flag operation that India may stage as a number of high-level visits are taking place in the region.

The spokesperson noted that there had been a consistent pattern in the BJP government resorting to some provocation or distraction around important international events.

“For a long time, we have also been warning the international community about the possibility of some false flag operation by India,” she said.

“We are concerned about the possibility of India seeking to create some distraction during the forthcoming high-profile visits to the region, i.e. President Erdogan & UNSG to Pakistan and President Trump to India,” Farooqui told reporters.

She said such provocations were obviously designed to divert global attention from India’s state-terrorism in IOJ&K as well as from Pakistan’s ongoing successful efforts in the counterterrorism arena and with respect to fulfillment of our obligations under the FATF regime.

“The RSS-inspired BJP government’s tactics have become all too predictable; and are being called out and shamed even inside India,” she further said.

While calling upon the international community to beware of any such irresponsible and ill-considered step by the current Indian regime, Pakistan maintains and unwavering resolve to: (a) respond most effectively and immediately to any Indian provocation; and (b) continue our march on the path to national development and regional peace and stability.

The spokesperson hoped that US President Donald Trump during his upcoming visit to India would raise the issue of Kashmir.

“President Donald Trump has offered mediation on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute on several occasions,” she said, adding, “We hope to see those offers being translated into practical actions.

“We hope that the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir will be raised during President Trump’s visit to India. Non-resolution of the dispute is one of the destabilising factors for peace and security in the region.”

Answering questions, the spokesperson said Pakistan’s measures to curb terror financing and money laundering had been widely acknowledged by the international community.

“We are certainly hopeful and working closely with our partners in the international community in this regard,” she said.

The plenary meeting of FATF is scheduled to kick off in Paris next week. One of the agenda items of the global watch dog on terror financing and money laundering includes discussing Pakistan’s performance of the 27-point action plan.

Pakistan was placed on the ‘grey list’ in June 2018 after failing to take adequate steps to curb terror financing and against proscribed organizations.

Since then Pakistan has made progress on certain points. Officials are hopeful that the recent conviction of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed will help strengthen Pakistan’s case.