Pashtun mothers in pain over escalating, heinous Taliban Attacks’

On May 12, 2020, the Afghan Taliban launched a heinous attack on a maternity ward in the Afghan capital, Kabul. The number of people killed in the militant attack has risen to 24 with mothers, newborn babies and nurses among the victims. At least 16 people were injured.

As Lyce Ducet of BBC News wrote “Even in a country which has seen the worst of the worst, this savage attack on newborn babies and their mothers has shocked, and shaken fragile hope this would be the year Afghanistan would finally start to turn towards peace. Images of special forces in bulky body armour, carrying infants to safety, will remain long in the memory of those who have repeatedly called for a ceasefire – especially when Afghans are battling another deadly enemy in Covid-19. Despite Taliban denials that this ghastly attack was their work, President Ghani’s denunciation reflects the anger and frustration of many. Some worry that groups like Islamic State, trying to drive an even greater wedge between Taliban and the government, have also killed for now what were slow uncertain steps toward peace talks.”

On May 13, the Pashtun Council of America, released an open letter from Afghan mothers to the United States, the UN and other international organizations calling for support for lasting peace in Afghanistan and asking the international community to help end the killing spree and deaths.

The letter is below.

Pashtuns in U.S. Condemn Killings by Security Forces

On May 2nd, a senior leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), Sardar Arif Wazir was killed in an attack in his hometown Wana, South Waziristan.

In a strong statement, the Pashtun Council America, condemned this attack and referred to it as a “politically motivated assassination.” The statement, pointed out that soon after Wazir’s killing, the Pakistani deep state’s troll army attempted a “social media character assassination campaign” against Wazir.

The detailed statement is below.

‘Missing Baloch Editor’s Body Found in Sweden: Are Pakistan’s Exiled Dissidents Now Under Threat?’

In March New Pakistan had reported on the disappearance of Sajid Hussain, editor of The Balochistan Times, who had been in exile in Sweden since 2012. Pakistan remains of the worst countries with respect to freedom but in recent years, dissidents abroad have been targeted for abduction or killings.

On April 23rd Mr Hussain’s body was found in the Fyris river outside Uppsala. Hussain was last seen boarding a train in Stockholm on his way to the city of Uppsala on 2 March.

It must be recalled that former President and Army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, suggested a strategy of eliminating dissidents abroad similar to that pursued by Russia in a TV interview with Pakistani journalist, Wajahat S. Khan.

Below is the video with English translation of Musharraf’s proposed strategy:

In an interview Husain’s wife, Shehnaz said “before fleeing for Sweden, her husband had sensed he was being followed. As well as writing about forced disappearances, he had exposed a drug kingpin in Pakistan. “Then some people broke into his house in Quetta when he was out investigating a story,” she said. “They took away his laptop and other papers too. After that he left Pakistan in Septem­ber 2012 and never came back.”

Hussain was chief editor of the Balochistan Times, an online magazine he had set up, in which he wrote about drug trafficking, forced disappearances and a long-running insurgency. According to the press freedom charity Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Hussain’s controversial profile meant it could not be ruled out that he had been abducted and killed “at the behest of a Pakistani intelligence agency.” “As long as a crime cannot be excluded, there remains the risk that his death is linked to his work as a journalist,” said Erik Halkjaer, the head of the Swedish branch of Reporters without Borders (RSF).

U.S. Ban on export of nuclear products shows Pakistan still seen with suspicion

Pakistan is not only referred to as Jihad Central but also as the land of the AQ Khan nuclear proliferation network. While the country’s leadership may try to deny everything, the reality is very different.

On April 21, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued an Order “suspending the general license authority under NRC regulations for exports of byproduct material to Pakistan. Exporters are no longer authorized to use the general license to export byproduct material to Pakistan and now must apply for a specific license pursuant to NRC regulations.”

While Pakistan was already on a list of countries that were treated as “restricted destinations,” but till now — unlike Iran and North Korea – Pakistan was not formally “embargoed,” and thus was technically still “eligible” to receive a general license for this material, usually used for radionuclides that are embedded in devices.

While we do not know more details, what the order does state is that “The Executive Branch has determined that suspending byproduct material exports to Pakistan under this 10 CFR part 110 general license is necessary to enhance the common defense and security of the United States and is consistent with the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, as amended.” As per 10 CFR 110.20(f) removal “may be done in response to significant adverse developments in the country involved. A key factor in this regard is the nonproliferation credentials of the importing country.”

Has Pakistan internationalized its anti-dissident death & abduction squads?

Pakistan remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist, it ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the 2019 RSF (Reporters without borders) Press Freedom Index. and as per the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) 61 journalists have been killed in Pakistan.

What is even more alarming is that in recent years there are reports of exiled reporters and bloggers based in Europe also facing threats. In February 2020, Ahmad Waqass Goraya, a Pakistani blogger living in Rotterdam, was attacked and threatened outside his home by two figures allegedly from the Pakistan intelligence agency.

In March a prominent Pakistani journalist who fled the country after receiving death threats has gone missing in Sweden where he had been granted political asylum. According to a story in The Guardian “Sajid Hussain, 39, went into self-imposed exile in 2012 after his reporting on forced disappearances and human rights abuses in the turbulent region of Balochistan had led to death threats. He had continued to run an online newspaper, the Balochistan Times, from abroad covering the same topics. Hussain was last seen at around 11am on 2 March in the Swedish city of Uppsala where he was living. A day after he stopped answering calls, a friend told the police about his disappearance and he was officially registered as a missing person on 5 March.”

Hussain “is from a well-known political family in Balochistan, which has long been a battleground between armed insurgents and security forces. His uncle Ghulam Mohammad Baloch was killed in 2011 while heading a nationalist movement. Hussain had worked for numerous news outlets in Pakistan, reporting on abuses in Balochistan around drugs, human rights and enforced disappearances, but fled the country in 2012 when police raided his house, taking his laptop and interrogating his family, and intelligence services visited his associates. Hussain had continued his journalism as he moved from the United Arab Emirates, Oman and then Uganda before settling in Sweden in 2018, and was given political asylum in 2019.”

According to Daniel Bastard, the Asia Pacific head of Reporters Without Borders, “Hussain could be a victim of enforced disappearance, given the circumstances of his case and testimony by his family and colleagues. Now, when you think about who could find interest in suppressing a dissident journalist, the first hypothesis leads to Pakistan’s security agencies.” The CPJ also demanded that the “Swedish authorities should make every effort to locate missing journalist Sajid Hussain Baloch and ensure his safety.”

According to the BBC, “Online newspaper the Balochistan Times, for which Hussain was chief editor, said it had reported his disappearance to Swedish police on 3 March. “As of today [28 March], there is no clue about his whereabouts and wellbeing,” it said in an editorial. “The police have not shared any progress in the investigations with his family and friends.”