Were Pakistan-based jihadis behind Sri Lankan terror attacks?

Over 300 people have been killed and over 500 injured in one of the worst terror attacks in recent history that took place on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. These terror attacks came after almost a decade of peace that returned to this island nation that had suffered over three decades of civil war and violence.

While a local jihadi organization – The National Thowheed Jamaat is suspected most analysts suspect links with external jihadi organizations, either ISIS or Al Qaeda. According to senior Sri Lankan officials “We do not believe these attacks were carried out by a group of people who were confined to this country. There was an international network without which these attacks could not have succeeded.”

There are many analysts who also suspect a link with Pakistan-based jihadi groups. Maldives, the island nation right next to Sri Lanka, has over the decades become deeply influenced by Saudi Wahhabi organizations and Pakistani jihadi groups especially Lashkar e Taiba.

The Pakistani security establishment has a long history of using Sri Lanka as a base for destabilizing India. In 2014 India alleged that a Pakistani official working at the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo “was playing a key role in planning terror strikes at the behest of ISI on the US and Israeli consulates in the southern part of India.  According to a news report “NIA had last month taken over the case which was earlier registered by Tamil Nadu Police in which a Sri Lanka national, Sakir Hussain, was arrested following a tip-off from the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Hussain was accused of having entered India with a mission to carry out reconnaissance of the US Consulate in Chennai and the Israeli Consulate in Bangalore.  The information under MLAT, which has been cleared for sending to Colombo through diplomatic channels, names Amir Zubair Consular (Visa) in the Pakistani Mission in Sri Lanka as the main conspirator who was involved in a conspiracy with some Lankan nationals for carrying out terror attacks on the two consulates, the sources said.”

The South Asian Against Terrorism and for Human Rights (SAATH) that comprises pro-democracy intellectuals and activists from Pakistan, “condemned the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and called for a region-wide effort to eliminate all terrorist groups.” The SAATH forum expressed “our deepest concern over the increasing violence in the region, which is exacerbated by the behaviour of some states in the region.” Further, they stated “We stand with Sri Lankan people in this hour of extreme human tragedy and urge all the regional governments to stick together and develop an effective framework to purge South Asian region of the scourge of terrorism and proxy war among the states.”

Restraint urged for India and Pakistan

We at New Pakistan urge the governments of India and Pakistan to de-escalate and exercise restraint. The current environment in the subcontinent is alarming.

We echo the statement issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) “urged restraint on both sides. The ongoing verbal duel between representatives of the Indian and Pakistani governments must cease and give way to sensible, mature diplomacy. There is nothing to be gained from military action for either country. ‘Both India and Pakistan have a long way to go towards improving their human rights records. Regional peace is a prerequisite for doing so. HRCP supports civil society activists on both sides of the border who are calling for better sense to prevail, and cautions against provocative statements made ostensibly in the “national” interest. Neither state has the right to play so lightly with the lives of its people.’”

Fascination with fake sites and fake praise for Pakistan continues

Wonders never cease, especially when it comes to the case of the Pakistani media. Our desire for praise by anyone prevents us from verifying its veracity.

New Pakistan has consistently sought to expose fake news. In 2018 we exposed both Global Village Space and Eurasia Futures for being fake news websites.Eurasiafuture.com and its website director Adam Garrie had alleged that Geo and Jang Group Editor in Chief, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had links with Cambridge Analytica. After being legally threatened by the Jang/Geo, Mr Garrie and his website issued apologies, retracted their allegations and issued an undertaking that they will not repeat any false allegations ever again.

It was therefore interesting to see a story published in The News titled ‘Imran will be best Pak ruler after Quaid-e-Azam: British analyst,’ which quoted Adam Garrie, the same person

The News sued successfully for running a story against them last year!

According to the story “Adam Garrie, a geopolitical expert and Director of Eurasia Future Think Tank, has viewed that under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan has stood up to the United States from its position as a sovereign nation, and is demonstrating a clean break from the past. Well, when Imran Khan first came to power and formed his government just a few months ago I went out on a limb but very confidently saying that that he would be the best political ruler that Pakistan has had since the late and great Muhammad Ali Jinnah. … But if Imran continues on the path that he is pursuing I believe that Pakistan’s best days are very much ahead. Of course, there are economic problems which need to be solved, and are being solved. But in terms of foreign policy, I think Pakistan’s new government really is demonstrating that it’s a clean break from the past, not just in terms of who the prime minister is but in terms of what he is doing. He’s creating a new mentality in terms not only of the general political atmosphere but in terms of all the policies that all of them are very positive thus far.”

Military courts are undemocratic, says HRCP

We at New Pakistan are concerned about the recent decision by the Government of Pakistan to table a bill seeking to extend the tenure of military courts beyond end January 2019.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) too has released astatement expressing “grave concern” because “the institution of military courts is an anomaly in any democratic order that claims to uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens. It is the state’s duty to uphold the rule of law in a manner that ensures that every citizen is entitled to due process and a fair trial. Equally, it is the state’s duty to uphold the rule of law to ensure the security of its citizens. These are not mutually exclusive obligations. Moreover, there is little evidence to show that military courts have succeeded in increasing respect for the rule of law. The perception of ‘speedy justice’ is no substitute for rooting out the militant extremism that led to the institution of these courts in the first instance or indeed for taking the time to train and equip domestic judicial and police mechanisms that are, and ought to remain, responsible for maintaining civilian law and order under a civilian mandate.”

Further, “To argue against military courts is not to undermine the horrific circumstances under which they were set up, but the incidence of terrorism cases has decreased since the Army Public School massacre in 2015 – this implies there is no justification for allowing military courts to continue. HRCP also remains troubled by the secrecy surrounding military court proceedings, the extremely high conviction rate of these courts and the possible means used to achieve such rates. All these are against the norms of justice. The recent Peshawar High Court judgment, which set aside the convictions of over 70 persons tried in military courts, underscores these concerns.”

Finally, “Should the government succeed in extending the life of military courts, it will run the serious risk of undermining attempts to reform the criminal justice system – measures that are sorely needed, especially among the lower courts. Extending the life of military courts also contravenes Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Pakistan is signatory. In the long term, outsourcing justice is not the answer.”

Why is a fauji propaganda site registered to Moeed Pirzada?

fake news‘Fake News’ is an old business in Pakistan. From the front pages of Dawn itself in 1971 to today, the powers that be have been obsessed with using media in attempts to redefine facts instead of using facts to understand reality. Over time, there have been several reports that have exposed these operations including the famous ‘connecting the dots‘ by Cafe Pyala and most recently the excellent piece by Umer Ali. Along the way, though, there have also been those who have been willing participants in this fake news circus. People like Ahmed Quraishi and Faraz Karamat. Now questions are being raised about another media personality, Dunya TV host Moeed Pirzada.

A little known website ‘Global Village Space’ was quietly launched in 2016 and promotes the writings of well-known ‘perception management’ operators such as Brig Gen (r) Asif Haroon Raja who is regularly featured on other propaganda websites such as the infamous ‘Veterans Today‘ which was a special project of Hamid Gul and more recently Russian propaganda websites. Also featured on ‘Global Village Space’ is Syed Haider Mehdi, another former military officer who is featured on ‘Command Eleven‘. ‘Global Village Space’ also features personalities from Russian propaganda operations.

None of this is very surprising as such operations have been exposed for years. However what makes this case interesting is that according to public records, the website ‘Global Village Space’ is registered to none other than Moeed Pirzada.

Imagine my shock when I saw the Director of Eurasia Future, Adam Garrie sharing these stories on Twitter, exclaiming: “Make Pakistan Sovereign Again”. In another tweet, he wished Pakistan could get rid of Nawaz Sharif. Several individuals involved with Eurasia Future are also regular contributors for Sputnik International and Russia Today (RT).

Mr. Garrie also writes for Global Village Spaces, a well-known pro-establishment Pakistani news and analysis website registered under Moeed Pirzada’s name. Is it a mere coincidence then that he was the first news anchor in Pakistan to take up this fabricated news story on his TV show?

Shocked, we decided to check this claim and found it was confirmed by the website hosting records.

Moeed Pirzada has never pretended to be unaware of this website. Actually, he is listed as an ‘author‘ (but not the owner) where he posts conspiracy theories and praise for Army. He also regularly ‘re-Tweets’ its anti-government posts and conspiracy theories from his own account.

This all raises fresh questions about whether Moeed Pirzada is a ‘journalist’ or a planted mouth piece? Are the rumours of his close relationship with the establishment more than just rumours? Obviously, Dunya needs to investigate whether their star anchor is secretly working behind the scenes as part of a propaganda scheme. Rumours are mere rumours, but Moeed Pirzada’s ownership of a fauji propaganda site have become a proven fact.