Crowd in Pakistan’s Swat kills man accused of desecrating Holy Qur’an

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Local residents look a spot where a Muslim mob lynched and burned a man over allegations that he had desecrated Holy Qur’an in Madyan, a town in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on June 21, 2024. (AP)
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A screengrab taken from videos circulating on social media shows a crowd gathered near the site where a man was killed after an angry mob stoned him to death near a police station in the northern Madian area of Pakistan's Swat on June 20, 2024. (@barristerCheema/X)
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Updated 21 June 2024

Crowd in Pakistan’s Swat kills man accused of desecrating Holy Qur’an

  • The mob stormed the police station where the man had been detained after being accused of burning the Qur’an
  • Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur takes notice of the incident, demands an inquiry report from province’s top cop

PESHAWAR: A man accused of desecrating the Holy Qur’an was killed on Thursday by a furious mob in Pakistan’s picturesque Swat valley after it stormed a police precinct where he had been detained, confirmed a senior police official while sharing details of the incident.

Swat, known for its tourism, hosts thousands of visitors from different parts of the country during the Eid holidays.

Madyan, the location of the incident, is a major tourist destination alongside nearby areas such as Kalam, Bahrain, Saidu Sharif and Marghazar.

Speaking to Arab News, District Police Officer (DPO) Dr. Zahid Ullah said a man named Suleman Khan from Pakistan’s Sialkot city was killed by the mob after accusations of burning the Islamic scripture. He added that Khan had been staying at a local hotel since June 18.

“A tourist from Sialkot was accused of desecrating the Qur’an and was surrounded by people in the marketplace outside his hotel in Madyan,” he said.

After learning about the incident, the police took the man into custody at Madyan Police Station, but this did not pacify the large crowd that soon gathered, broke down the door and stormed in.

“The mob pelted stones at the police station and tortured the accused before taking him outside and burning him at a nearby bridge,” the DPO said.

“The angry mob also set fire to the goods and vehicles at the police station,” he continued, adding that 11 people got injured during the mayhem.

lainclothes police officers stand beside the burnt vehicles which were torched by a Muslim mob in an attack, in Madyan in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, on June 21, 2024. (AP)

Blasphemy, including the desecration of the Holy Qur’an, constitutes an incendiary charge in Pakistan, where just an accusation can lead to mob violence.

Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ali Amin Khan Gandapur took notice of the incident by ordering an inquiry report from the Inspector General of Police and expressed his regret over the incident.

He instructed the police to the police to take necessary measures to bring the situation under control.

Gandapur also urged the citizens to remain peaceful.

Pakistani minister, Iraqi envoy discuss possibility of free entry visas for pilgrims 

Updated 14 July 2024

Pakistani minister, Iraqi envoy discuss possibility of free entry visas for pilgrims 

  • Pakistani Shia Muslims Muharram travel to Iraq’s Najaf, Karbala cities during Muharram every year
  • Iraqi envoy assures Pakistan’s interior minister of making travel easier for pilgrims, says state media 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi discussed the possibility of free entry visas for Pakistani pilgrims into Iraq with the country’s envoy Hamid Abbas Lafta, state-run media reported. 

Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala hold tremendous significance for Shia Muslims around the world, including from Pakistan, who travel to these cities during the first two months of the Islamic lunar calendar to recall the sacrifices made by Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 

Lafta met Naqvi and Chaudhry Salik Hussain, the minister for overseas Pakistanis in Islamabad to discuss ways to improve the travel experience for Pakistani pilgrims in Iraq. 

“The discussion highlighted the possibility of free entry visas for Pakistani pilgrims and increasing the number of people allowed to visit each year,” the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported. 

Pakistan’s national airline last week launched special flights to Najaf city during Muharram for the country’s pilgrims. Pakistan said it would operate return flights for pilgrims from Najaf from July 20. 

Naqvi expressed “serious concern” about travel agents charging Pakistani pilgrims excessive fees, ensuring the Iraqi envoy he would take action against those breaking the law. 

“He also requested the Iraqi government to consider the issue of permitting Pakistani pilgrims to keep their passports while in Iraq,” the APP said. 

The Iraqi ambassador assured full cooperation in making travel easier for Pakistani pilgrims and provided a list of travel agents who had been overcharging visitors, the state media said. 

“The two sides also agreed to quickly finalize a visa waiver agreement for diplomats and officials from both countries,” APP said. 

The APP said both countries are additionally working on a deal that will make it easier for Pakistani workers to obtain work permits in Iraq.

12 dead, 27 injured due to rain-related incidents in Pakistan’s Punjab 

Updated 14 July 2024

12 dead, 27 injured due to rain-related incidents in Pakistan’s Punjab 

  • Five children, four women and three men among 12 dead, says disaster management authority 
  • Authority warns citizens against traveling unnecessarily in bad weather, says rains to continue till July 15

ISLAMABAD: Twelve people were killed while 27 others were injured in rain-related incidents in Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province in a day, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said in a report on Saturday, as the country braces for torrential monsoon rains in various parts of the country. 

Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change effects. Large swathes of the South Asian nation were submerged in 2022 due to extremely heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers, a phenomenon linked to climate change that damaged crops and infrastructure and killed at least 1,700 people, displaced millions and inflicted billions of dollars in losses.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) this month warned that the country’s Sindh and Punjab provinces could face an “emergency” situation due to torrential rains this monsoon season. 

Torrential rains were reported in Punjab’s Lahore, Sargodha, Toba Tek Singh, Faisalabad, Kot Addu and Bahawalpur cities on Friday, a PDMA spokesperson confirmed. 

“Yesterday, 12 people were killed while 14 houses were affected and 27 citizens were injured due to torrential rains,” the PMDA said in a report. 

“The deceased persons included five children, three women and four men. In Narowal and Multan, three citizens were killed from lightning strikes.”

The PDMA spokesperson said that as per the Punjab government’s directives, relatives of the deceased will be provided financial compensation. 

It added that monsoon rains in Punjab are expected to continue till July 15 and that the flow of water in the province’s rivers and barrages was at the normal level for the time being. 

The disaster management authority urged people to avoid unnecessary traveling during the current weather. 

“Avoid touching electric wires and poles,” it said. “In emergency situations, call on PDMA’s flood helpline 1129.”

Earlier in April, heavy rains triggered landslides and flash floods in Pakistan, leaving 92 people dead and another 116 wounded. Pakistan’s eastern province of Punjab also reported 21 deaths from lightning and roof collapses while the country’s southwestern Balochistan province reported at least 15 deaths from torrential rains.

The NDMA this month launched a community engagement app for Pakistanis ahead of the monsoon season. The ‘Pak NDMA Disaster Alert’ mobile app will generate alerts and update guidance for organizations and individual responders in national and provincial languages, Pakistan’s state media had said.

It said the alerts would help people and responders implement disaster management plans, keeping them ahead of the crises before they strike.

Pakistan court hands death sentence to mobile snatcher for killing Karachi youth 

Updated 14 July 2024

Pakistan court hands death sentence to mobile snatcher for killing Karachi youth 

  • Man found guilty of shooting dead 21-year-old in Sept. 2018 for resisting robbery 
  • Street crimes and mobile snatchings are rampant in Karachi, a city of 20 million people

ISLAMABAD: A sessions court in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi this week sentenced a convict to death on charges of killing a youth in 2018 for resisting robbery.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Ameeruddin sentenced to death convict Shakoor Khan on Saturday for shooting dead Sajid Hussain, 21, when he resisted Khan’s attempt to snatch his mobile phone on September 25, 2018. 

According to the prosecution, Hussain was sitting outside his home in Karachi’s Baldia Town area with his friends when Khan and his accomplice, Shoukat, attempted to rob them. Hussain resisted and a scuffle ensued following which Khan shot Hussain in the chest and fled with the accomplice. Hussain succumbed to his wounds on the way to the hospital. 

“The convict deliberately fired at the deceased from close range while the latter resisted a robbery of a mobile phone alongside co-accused,” the judge’s written order read. 

The court noted that the eyewitness testimonies, police investigation of the crime scene and medical evidence all corroborated the prosecution’s account. 

“Given these circumstances, the death penalty is a fitting punishment as a necessary measure to deter such heinous crimes of murder during robberies and to ensure that justice is served,” the order said. 

Karachi, a metropolis of 20 million that hosts the stock exchange and central bank, has for decades been beset by armed violence. While an armed campaign by the military, with help from police, paramilitary Rangers and intelligence agencies, against armed gangs and suspected militants in the city brought down murder rates after 2013, street crimes have been on the rise again since last year, with shooting deaths in muggings and robberies once again becoming a daily headline. 

The judge ordered Khan to pay compensation of Rs300,000 [$1080] to the legal heirs of the deceased. He also slapped the convict with a 20-year jail sentence for crimes committed under Sections 397 (robbery or dacoity, with an attempt to cause death or grievous hurt) and 392 (punishment for robbery) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

However, the judge said the guilty had the right to appeal against the sentence. 

The court observed that Karachi, once a vibrant city that is also the country’s commercial hub, now grapples with a “troubling surge” in crime rates, particularly mobile snatchings and robberies which are often compounded by acts of murder. 

It said that this surge in crime not only affects the sense of security of the city’s residents but also tarnishes Karachi’s long-held reputation as a prosperous urban center. 

“Stringent measures to deter crime are essential, with a focus on the swift and fair adjudication of robbery and snatching cases within the judicial system,” the court noted. 

“The imposition of appropriate and timely penalties will serve as a powerful deterrent for potential offenders.”

India beat Pakistan to clinch World Championship of Legends cricket tournament 

Updated 14 July 2024

India beat Pakistan to clinch World Championship of Legends cricket tournament 

  • India chases Pakistan’s 157-run target with five wickets in hand, five balls to spare
  • Ambati Rayudu scores 30-ball fifty, Anureet Singh returns figures of 3-43 for India 

ISLAMABAD: India beat arch-rivals Pakistan in Birmingham on Sunday by five wickets to clinch the World Championship of Legends tournament inspired by impressive performances from Ambati Rayudu and Anureet Singh. 

The World Championship of Legends cricket tournament features retired cricketers taking part in a T20 cricket tournament. This year’s edition features teams from Pakistan, India, England, Australia, West Indies and South Africa. 

Batting first, Pakistan managed to put up 156/6 from their 20 overs. Former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik top-scored from his side by scoring 41 runs from 36 balls. The only other notable contribution came from Kamran Akmal, who scored 24 runs from 19 balls. 

In response, India achieved the target at the loss of five wickets and in the 20th over of the match, with five balls to spare. 

“Congratulations India Champions,” the WCL account posted on Instagram. “What a finish to the first season of World Championship of Legends.”

Singh kept the Pakistani batters at bay, returning figures of 3-43 while Rayudu top-scored with 50 runs from 30 balls. Pakistan’s Aamer Yamin returned figures of 2-29 while Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz and Malik each took a wicket. 

India Champions qualified for the final after defeating Australia Champions by 86 runs in the second semifinal which was played at the County Ground in Northampton on Friday.

Pakistan Champions, meanwhile, won the first semifinal against the West Indies Champions at the County Ground, Northampton on Friday. 

Pakistani religious scholars call for tolerance, interfaith harmony during Muharram

Updated 14 July 2024

Pakistani religious scholars call for tolerance, interfaith harmony during Muharram

  • Pakistani religious scholars vow to cooperate with law enforcers to ensure peace in Muharram
  • Militant outfits have frequently targeted Muharram processions led by Shia Muslims in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani religious scholars this week called on the masses to implement the code of conduct of the “Paigham-e-Pakistan” decree to ensure tolerance and interfaith harmony during the Islamic month of Muharram. 

Islamic scholars from various denominations in Pakistan jointly drafted a condemnation of religious militancy and sectarian violence in the country over five years ago in January 2018.

The initiative, named “Paigham-e-Pakistan,” came amid rising attacks by the proscribed militant network, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which justified violence against civilians and security forces in the name of religion.

“Ulema-Masaykh of different religious schools of thought has stressed to ensure implementation on the Paigham-ePakistan Code of Conduct to ensure peace and religious harmony during the month of Muharram-ul-Harram and to eradicate the menace of extremism, terrorism and intolerance from the country,” a press release issued by the country’s leading scholars on Saturday said.

Scholars affiliated with various Islamic sects said the country’s religious leadership will “fully cooperate” with law enforcement agencies and ensure coordination not to support any scholar found violating this code of conduct.

“The religious scholars also vowed to cooperate with the government machinery and with the law enforcement agencies and resolved to fully endorse the code of conduct,” the statement said. 

Pakistan has historically experienced sectarian violence during Muharram, a significant month for Shia Muslims who observe mourning rituals to commemorate the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) grandson in the Battle of Karbala.

Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram, is the holiest event in the Shia Muslim calendar and sees hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims take part in religious gatherings and processions to mourn the passing of Imam Hussain.

Attacks targeting these religious processions have taken place in the past, stoking sectarian tensions. 

The Paigham-e-Pakistan decree denounces sectarian violence and refutes an “extremist and fundamentalist mindset.” It calls upon religious scholars to educate people between what is right and wrong, and states that only the state has the jurisdiction to determine whether one is an infidel or not.