Pakistan arrests human rights leader who criticized army

Manzoor Pashteen heads the Pashtun Protection Movement, which has emerged as a force among the country’s Pashtun minority. (AFP)
Updated 27 January 2020

Pakistan arrests human rights leader who criticized army

  • Manzoor Pashteen was detained along with six others in a pre-dawn raid in the northwestern city of Peshawar
  • Pashteen was apparently arrested on charges of attending anti-government rallies

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Pakistani security forces on Monday arrested the leader of a human rights group that has accused the military of committing widespread abuses in its war on terror,
Manzoor Pashteen was detained along with six others in a pre-dawn raid in the northwestern city of Peshawar, said Javed Khan, a local police official. He said Pashteen was arrested on charges of making anti-government speeches at rallies and inciting violence. He provided no further details.
Pashteen, 27, heads the Pashtun Protection Movement, which has emerged as a force among the country’s Pashtun minority, drawing tens of thousands to rallies. The group contends that the military is waging a campaign of intimidation as it battles Islamist militants in the country’s rugged border region near Afghanistan. The group says the army’s heavy-handed tactics include extrajudicial killings and thousands of disappearances and detentions.
Mohsin Dawar, a lawmaker who is also a member of the group, confirmed Pashteen’s arrest. He told The Associated Press that police were taking Pashteen to Dera Ismail Khan, a town in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. He said Pashteen was apparently arrested on charges of attending anti-government rallies.
Pashteen’s supporters condemned his arrest on social media, while others praised the police action, saying a “traitor” had been arrested.
A prominent Pakistani rights leader Afrasiab Khattak criticized the arrest, saying it “exposes the colonial type repressive state policy against Pashtun in general,” as well as the people of the former tribal region of North Waziristan in particular.
Gulalai Ismail, a Pakistani human rights activist who recently fled the country to avoid harassment by security agencies, also denounced the arrest in a tweet. “We, Pashtuns, will remain non-violent in the face of the arrest of our movement’s leader,” she said, adding that peaceful resistance is “the major pillar” of the movement.
the military has used indiscriminate force as it hunts for Taliban hideouts in the tribal regions where the Pashtun dominate, imposing collective punishments like bulldozing the homes of family members of suspected militants and punishing entire villages for extremist attacks.
The catalyst for the group’s creation was the police killing in 2018 of Naqueebullah Mehsud, a 27-year-old ethnic Pashtun and aspiring model who was shot dead in the southern port city of Karachi. Many displaced Pashtuns have relocated there after being displaced by the military operations in the tribal regions.


Indian officials warn of lockdown extensions as COVID-19 cases in South Asia near 6,000

Updated 04 April 2020

Indian officials warn of lockdown extensions as COVID-19 cases in South Asia near 6,000

  • Modi said this week the country will pull out of the planned three-week lockdown in a phased manner
  • India has been hardest hit by the disease in South Asia with some 2,902 cases, of which 68 have died

MUMBAI: The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in South Asia neared 6,000 on Saturday, even as authorities in some cities tightened restrictions on movement and warned lockdowns could be extended in a bid to rein in the pandemic.
“If people don’t obey the rules seriously and cases continue to rise, then there may be no option but to extend the lockdown,” Rajesh Tope, the health minister of Maharashtra state which includes the financial hub Mumbai, told Reuters. “It could be extended in Mumbai and urban areas of Maharashtra by two weeks.”
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this week the country will pull out of the planned three-week lockdown in a phased manner. India has been hardest hit by the disease in South Asia with some 2,902 cases, of which 68 have died.
Maharashtra has 516 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — and 26 people have died.
While the government does plan to review the lockdown, set to end on April 14, three senior officials told Reuters this will depend on an assessment of the situation in each state, and lockdowns and restrictions would be extended in districts where the coronavirus case spread has continued.
Public transport in large metros such as Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi, may only be restored in a phased manner days after the lockdown ends, said the officials, who asked not to be named as the plans were still under discussion.
Restrictions tightened
The number of COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in South Asia in the last week. Health experts warn an epidemic in the region, home to a fifth of the world’s population, could overwhelm its already weak public health systems.
But Muslim-majority Pakistan and Bangladesh, and India, home to the world’s largest Muslim minority, have struggled to convince conservative religious groups to maintain social distancing.
On Friday, Pakistani Muslims at a Karachi mosque clashed with baton-wielding police trying to enforce new curbs on gatherings to prevent Friday prayers and contain coronavirus infections, officials said.
This came after the government in the southern province of Sindh, home to the financial hub of Karachi, enforced a three-hour curfew on Friday afternoon, in a bid to persuade Muslim worshippers to pray at home.
Pakistan has so far reported 2,547 coronavirus infections, fueled by a jump in cases related to members of the Tablighi Jamaat, an orthodox Muslim proselytising group.

Following is data on the spread of the coronavirus in South Asia, according to government figures:

* India has registered 2,902 cases, including 68 deaths.
* Pakistan has registered 2,547 cases, including 37 deaths.
* Afghanistan has registered 281 cases, including 6 deaths.
* Sri Lanka has registered 159 cases, including 5 deaths.
* Bangladesh has registered 61 cases, including six deaths.
* Maldives has registered 32 cases and no deaths.
* Nepal has registered six cases and no deaths.
* Bhutan has registered five cases and no deaths.