BREAKING: 7 dead, 20 injured in bomb attack in Pakistan’s Lahore.

At least five people were killed and 30 injured after a blast ripped through a building in an upscale shopping area of Pakistan’s Lahore Thursday, officials said, the latest in a surge in Islamist violence.

“It was a bomb attack,” Nayab Haider, a spokesman for the provincial Punjab police said. Rescue services spokeswoman Deeba Shehnaz provided the casualty toll.

Television footage showed a smouldering building and several crumpled cars with their windows blown out.

It came a day after the military announced the launch of a nationwide anti-terrorist operation in the wake of a series of bloody assaults that have killed more than 130 people in the past two weeks.

They included a previous bomb blast in Lahore on February 13 which killed 14 people, and a devastating suicide attack at a Sufi shrine in Sindh province that left 90 devotees dead.

The attacks, which were claimed by the Islamic State group and the Pakistani Taliban, dented growing optimism over the country’s security after it appeared to be making strong gains in its decade-and-a-half long war on militancy.

The emergence of IS and a Taliban resurgence would be a major blow to Pakistan. Analysts have said the apparently coordinated nature of the attacks suggested militants were regrouping.

Pakistan has accused neighbouring Afghanistan of harbouring the militants who have carried out the attacks. Kabul and Islamabad routinely accuse one another of giving militants safe haven.

“The enemy is taking advantage of the turmoil in Afghanistan to launch terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s soil,” a foreign office spokesman told reporters at a regular press briefing Thursday as he condemned the attacks.

Islamabad launched a crackdown in the wake of the attacks, saying it has killed dozens of “terrorists” in recent days and carried out airstrikes on militant hideouts along the Afghan border before announcing the fresh military operation Wednesday.

Analysts said the military was seeking to limit militants’ movements from one place to another by carrying out a nationwide operation.

“This operation will basically target sanctuaries… of militants in Punjab province and restrict their movements,” defence analyst and retired general Talat Masood told AFP.

Pakistan had vowed to hold the final of its hugely popular Pakistan Super League in Lahore next month despite the surge in violence, part of an effort to bring international cricket back to the country, promising “head of state level” security for foreign players taking part.

The city, capital of Punjab province and Pakistan’s second largest metropolis, was also the scene of an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team bus in 2009. Pakistan has not hosted high-level visiting teams since then.


Source: The Guardian

Pakistan national airline chairman resigns following crash

Pakistan’s International Airlines (PIA) chairman, Azam Saigol, has resigned in the wake of a crash last week that killed all 48 people on board, officials said on Tuesday.

Saigol resigned late Monday, PIA spokesman, Danyal Gilani, said.

“The PIA chairman resigned due to personal reasons,” Gilani said.

The chairman had worked on a pro bono basis, without salary or perks, since his appointment in May, he added.

On December 7, a PIA flight to Islamabad from the tourist resort of Chitral crashed, killing everyone on board the small ATR-42 plane.

Three foreign nationals, two from Austria and one from China, were among the dead.

PIA faced tough questions about adopting international safety standards and procedures after the crash, which came after financial losses and accusations of mismanagement, according to media reports.

Earlier this year, the Pakistani government tried to sell 25 per cent of PIA’s shares to offset financial losses that had piled up over the years, according to reports.

The plan was abandoned after a strong protest by the company’s employees and opposition political parties.

On Monday, PIA grounded its ATR fleet and started the process of so-called “shakedown” tests of all 10 planes, Gilani said.

The decision to ground the fleet came after another ATR-42 airplane encountered technical issues at take-off Sunday night.

Pakistan aviation experts have begun a probe into the crash of the ATR-42 plane with the help of a French team, officials said.

UPDATE: No survivors in Pakistan air crash

The Pakistan Aviation Authority on Wednesday said all the 48 people on board a commercial aircraft that crashed in northern part of the country were killed.


“It is sad and tragic, but we confirm that there are no survivors in PIA’s ATR crash,’’ the Civil Aviation Authority said.


The charred bodies of 42 passengers and six crew members were being shifted to a hospital for DNA test to help identify them, police official Tahir Iqbal said.

Pakistan Plane Carrying 48 Crashes Killing All On Board

A Pakistani plane carrying 48 people crashed Wednesday in the country’s mountainous north and burst into flames killing everyone on board, authorities said, in one of the deadliest aviation accidents in the nation’s history.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Flight PK661 came down after one of its two turboprop engines failed while travelling from the city of Chitral to Islamabad, the civil aviation authority said.

Rescuers, including hundreds of villagers, pulled the charred remains from the wreckage of the aircraft, parts of which were found hundreds of metres away from the main site in Abbottabad district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

An AFP reporter at the site near the village of Saddha Batolni said part of the plane was still on fire more than five hours after the crash, as rescuers picked up torn human remains with their hands and placed them in bags before they were taken by ambulance to Islamabad for identification.

“The bodies were burnt so badly we could not recognise whether they were women or men,” a villager in his thirties, who declined to give his name, told AFP.

“We put into sacks whatever we could find…and carried them down to the ambulance.”

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Azam Saigol, the airline’s chairman said the plane was an ATR-42 turboprop aircraft, which contacted ground authorities after one engine failed and issued a Mayday call at 4:14 pm (1114 GMT).

It began descending a minute later before disappearing from radar at 4:16 pm.

“This plane was technically sound, and was checked in October,” he said, adding the captain had flown more than 12,000 hours and the aircraft was nine years old.

“Our focus now is to retrieve all the dead bodies,” he added, vowing a full investigation.

A senior rescue official on the site who requested anonymity added: “The villagers told us that the plane was shaky before it crashed. It was about to hit the village but it seems that the pilot managed to drag the plane towards the hills.”

Three foreigners were among the dead, officials said, with Austria’s foreign ministry later confirming two of its nationals were killed and Chinese state media saying one of its nationals was also among the victims.


Map Ranks Pakistan Best At Gay Porn, See What Nigeria Is Ranked For

New map has “revealed” what every country is best at, throwing up some shocking pair up that will leave some countries “red in the face”. For instance, the map ranks Pakistan as best at gay porn and Honduras for murder, while Libya is in for fat child.

Nigeria, often ranked for undesirable things, however, claims a positive spot, ranking for… wait for it… Scrabble players.

The United Kingdom is for the billionaires, Togo for unhappiness, and Sudan beats Nigeria to rank for oil dependency.

According to the map, Zimbabwe is best at languages (sorry, Robert Mugabe), South Africa shows up with death and Swaziland for HIV.

The map is designed and published by Information Is Beautiful, a visual website “dedicated to distilling the world’s data, information and knowledge into beautiful, interesting and, above all, useful visualisations, infographics and diagrams”.

The map, entitled “International number ones… because every country is best at something”, relies on data from the CIA, the World Bank, UN, Bloomberg and Forbes, among others.


Credit: punchng

Pakistan, Russia Fighter Jets Set To Join War Against Boko Haram- NAF

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) will take delivery of war -planes and helicopters from Pakistan and Russia to boost its fleet ahead of the final push against Boko Haram insurgents, it was learnt yesterday.

Nigeria has failed to procure fighter jets from the United States and Brazil.

Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who broke the news in Abuja, said  Air Force personnel were undergoing training in many countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Pakistan, Egypt and China.

The news came as Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai ordered his men to end the insurgency this month.

Air Marshal Abubakar said: “We have been enjoying support from other countries. Sometimes arms procurement is shrouded in a lot of politics. Unfortunately, I’m not a politician, so I cannot say much on that. But what I can tell you is that right now we are expecting the Pakistani Chief of Air Staff in Nigeria soon. Pakistan has accepted to sell 10 trainer airplanes. And that is why the Pakistan Chief of Air Staff is coming for the induction ceremony in Kaduna.”

The Chief of Air Staff said the Air Force was assisting the Army and the Navy in the North and South fighting terrorism and militancy through operational strategy, air interdictions strategy and soft-core strategy.

He said the objective was to create an enabling environment for the ground and surface forces to operate with little or no hindrance.

He said the Service was carrying out massive reactivation of redundant aircraft and many of them are already involved in the fight against Boko Haram.

“Another sub -strategy is the reactivation of airplanes. We have embarked on the reactivation of airplanes and today we are on the 13th aircraft. What I mean by reactivation is that aircraft that were not involved in any fight before the coming of this Federal Government; they were parked before but are today part of the fight.

“The 13th aircraft as I speak to you is being worked upon in Yola and we are hoping that before the end of this month that airplane will be flying. When you train, you must reactivate the platform to be used in flying.”

He praised the competence of NAF pilots, saying:  “In the last 18 months, we have flown almost 3000 hours with no incident. The pilots are among the most competent. Because the training curriculum is very clear. And that is why now in the Air Force you look at the wings, pilots wear wings. We have categorised the wings according to their skill levels.

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Pakistan, Russia fighter jets set to join Boko Haram war

Nigeria turns to Pakistan, China for war planes, helicopters, others

Concerned about global politics surrounding procurement of sophisticated arms from western countries, Nigerian Air Force is expecting arrival of war-planes and helicopters from Pakistan and Russia to boost its fleets.

The Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, made the disclosure at a breakfast briefing with editors of online media in Abuja at the weekend.

Mr. Abubakar said: “I want to say that we have been enjoying support from other countries. (Sometimes arm procurement) is shrouded in a lot of politics. Unfortunately, I’m not a politician, so I cannot be able to say much on that. But what I can tell you is that right now as I speak to you, we are expecting the Pakistani Chief of Air Staff in Nigeria soon. Pakistan has accepted to sell ten trainer airplanes. And that is why the Pakistan Chief of Air Staff is coming for the induction ceremony which is going to take place in Kaduna.

“We are really getting support from many countries. Similarly, we have trained so many people in Pakistan, China. In the US, we have pilots that are training right now. We have other pilots that have just finished training from the United Kingdom. We have additional pilots that are training in South Africa. We have more pilots that are training in the Egyptian Air Force and so many other places including Russia…We are really getting support”, he said.

On the competence of Nigerian fighter pilots, Mr. Abubakar said “In the last 18 months, we have flown almost 3000 hours with no incident. In terms of competence I can tell you that the Nigerian Air Force pilots are amongst the most competent. Because the training curriculum is very clear. And that is why now in the Air Force you look at the wings, pilots wear wings. We have categorized the wings according to their skill levels. We also organize simulation training for our pilots, we organize evaluation visits where pilots are evaluated without any notice. We have also sent over 700 personnel of the NAF to different parts of the world to train and acquire the skills required for them to be effective.

Mr. Abubakar said the air force is currently assisting the Nigerian Army and Navy in the North and South in countering criminal activities of terrorists and militants through operational strategy, air interdictions strategy and soft-core strategy. He explained that the main objective is to create an enabling environment for the ground and surface forces, to be able to operate with little or no hindrance.

He continued: “Another sub-strategy under this is the reactivation of airplanes. We have embarked on the reactivation of airplanes and today as I speak to you we are on the thirteenth aircraft. What I mean by reactivation is that aircrafts that were not in involved in any fight before the coming of the present federal government; they were parked before but are today part of the fight.

“The thirteenth aircraft as I speak to you is being worked upon in Yola and we are hoping that before the end of this month that airplane will be flying. When you train, you must reactivate the platform to be used in flying.”

The Air Force boss also claimed there was no helicopter crash in Makurdi. Explaining the incident involving Agusta AW 101 helicopter handed over to NAF by President Muhammadu Buhari, he said: “What happened in Makurdi was not a crash. Immediately we received the aircraft from the Presidency, we took one of them to Kaduna to paint it into desert camouflage. They removed the seal of the President and painted it into a combat machine.

“When they finished the painting, they were supposed to go to Maiduguri but they needed to go to Makurdi to pick certain things before proceeding to Maiduguri. So the aircraft took off from Kaduna, landed perfectly in Makurdi. They were just taxiing to go and park when the incident happened. I don’t want to pre-empt whatever investigation that is going on.

“Those same pilots were the ones that picked the 21 Chibok girls that were moved out in the night and brought them back to Maiduguri and from Maiduguri to Abuja. So accidents happen and we are investigating to find out why it happened and we will make it public when we get the picture of what really happened.”

The Air Marshall also disclosed that the welfare of officers in the Air Force have been improved upon through provisions of accommodation, agricultural programs, housing schemes and other welfare packages. He added that people in host communities are also beneficiaries of its services through the provisions of health facilities, water boreholes, schools and skill acquisitions centres.

Father sentenced to death in Pakistan after murdering daughter who couldn’t bake ‘perfect bread’

A father has been sentenced to death in Pakistan after he confessed to killing his daughter because she wasn’t able to bake perfect bread.

Khalid Mehmood admitted murdering his daughter Aneeqa before dumping her body outside the Mayo Hospital in Lahore.

According to prosecutors, he then told police that the girl was missing and feared she had been abducted, claiming she had failed to return home after going out to buy food.

However, according to the Express Tribune, officers later discovered that the girl was actually killed by her father after she failed to perfect the recipe for making gol roti.

The bread is a type of chapati that is usually round and flat and eaten everyday with curries and chutneys.

Roti Flatbread - West Indian Style Paratha Roti. (Photo: Marian Blazes)

Police later arrested Mehmood and his son Abuzar when they confessed to killing Aneeqa by beating her to death.

They also admitted dumping her body as well as filing a false missing persons report.

A judge at a court in Lahore then awarded Mehmood the death penalty and also fined him 500,000 Pakistan rupees (£4,000).

The case comes just a week after another man who murdered his daughter and her boyfriend in a so-called honour killing was allowed to go free after he pardoned himself and his accomplices.

Faqeer Muhammad was accused of shooting dead his daughter Kiran Bibi and her alleged lover Ghulam Abbas, ‘to save family honour’ due to their relationship in Lahore in 2014.

Muhammad and the daughter’s mother Azmat Bibi were the legal heirs to the girl, meaning they could pardon anyone accused of killing her.

Mrs Bibi and another son then lodged an application to have Muhammad pardoned, which he agreed to and it was accepted by the court.

NAF To Buy 10 Super Mushshak Aircraft From Pakistan

Pakistan has struck a major deal with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to sell 10 Pakistani-made advanced trainer aircraft.

According to the Indian-based Jindu Times, Air Vice Marshal Iya Ahmed Abdullahi and the Chairman of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Air Marshal Arshad Malik signed the contract last Friday in Abuja, PAF spokesman, Air Commodore Syed Mohammad Ali said.

The contract includes operational training and technical support and assistance to the NAF.

“This contract would not only open new avenues for export of aviation equipment to foreign countries but also help in generating revenue for the country (Pakistan),” a PAF statement said.

“The deal further strengthens Pakistan Aeronautical Complex’s (PAC) status as a world-class aviation industry producing the supersonic JF-17 Thunder and Super Mushshak trainer aircraft,” it added.

The Super Mushshak, which is based on a Swedish design but built under licence in Pakistan, is already in service in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and South Africa.

Talks are also at an advanced stages with Qatar and Turkey for the delivery of Super Mushshak, The Express Tribune quoted a senior PAF official as saying.

Super Mushshak is an advanced variant of the Mushshak basic trainer, which was also produced by PAC.

The PAF put up Super Mushshak for static as well as aerial display in last year’s Dubai Air Show, where some nations expressed interest in the aircraft.

Credit: thisdaylive

Pakistan Passes Law Which Will Make Honour Killing PUNISHABLE

Pakistan passed long-awaited legislation Thursday closing a loophole that allowed people who killed for “honour” to walk free, three months after the murder of a social media star by her brother sparked international revulsion.

The legislation, passed unanimously by the National Assembly, mandates life imprisonment even if the victim’s relatives forgive the murderer.

The assembly also passed a bill increasing the punishments for some rape offences, mandating DNA testing and making the rape of a minor or the disabled punishable by life imprisonment or death.

Women have long fought for their rights in Pakistan, and so-called “honour” killings claim the lives

of hundreds each year.

Rape conviction rates are close to zero percent, largely due to the law’s reliance on circumstantial evidence and a lack of forensic testing.

Rights groups and politicians have for years called for tougher laws to tackle perpetrators of violence against women in the country.

The gruesome murder of Facebook star Qandeel Baloch in July catapulted the issue into the international spotlight.

“This is a step in the right direction,” women’s activist and columnist Aisha Sarwari told AFP.

“We should take our little wins where we get them and proceed forward and not retreat.” Excellent, if you ask me.

Suicide Bomber Kills Dozens In Pakistan Mosque

A suicide bomber has killed at least 23 people and wounded dozens while they were attending prayers at a mosque in a northwestern Pakistani tribal area, sources tell Al Jazeera.

Friday’s bombing occurred in the village of Anbar Tehsil in the Mohmand tribal district bordering Afghanistan where the Pakistani army has been battling the Pakistan Taliban.

“The suicide bomber was in a crowded mosque, he shouted ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is greatest) and then there was a huge blast,” Naveed Akbar, deputy administrator of Mohmand Agency, told Reuters news agency.

Akbar added that some fatalities appeared to had been caused when part of the mosque caved in from the force of the blast.

“A portion of the mosque and verandah collapsed in the blast and fell on worshippers. We are still retrieving bodies and the injured from the rubble of the mosque,” he said.

One of the wounded, 41-year-old Ghulam Khan, said he heard a deafening explosion during the prayers.

“I cried for help, but no one came to me … there were other bodies … wounded worshippers, who were reciting verses from Quran and waiting for help,” he told the Associated Press news agency.

Khan said local residents and tribal police helped transport the wounded to hospital.

Read More: aljazeera

Pakistan Trains Women In Motorcycling For Mobility

Women in Pakistan are getting on their bikes in a bid overcome the barriers that limit their mobility and ultimately widen economic and gender inequalities.

Under Women on Wheels, a government-supported project, 35 women who had been trained to ride motorcycles participated in a rally on Tuesday in the city of Sargodha, in Punjab province.

Launched in January this year, the initiative encourages women to become independent, and reduce their reliance on male relatives for day-to-day activities, as well as getting to school, college or work.

Tuesday’s event was attended by Ingrid Johansson, the Swedish ambassador, representatives from UN Women Pakistan, local police and provincial officials.

The rally resulted in a rare sight. It is something of a taboo for women to ride motorcycles in Pakistan, a common form of transport for men, in cities and the countryside.

As dozens of women raced through the district in the Punjab on their motorcycles, their message was clear: We will be independent.

Read More: aljazeera

13 Dead, Dozens Wounded In Pakistan Court Blast- Police

At least 13 people were killed and more than 50 wounded after a suicide bomber attacked a court in the Pakistani city of Mardan Friday, police said, the latest assault targeting Pakistan’s legal community.

The bomber shot his way through the main gate leading to the district court, before throwing a hand grenade and detonating his suicide vest among the morning crowds, senior police official Ejaz Khan told reporters.

Rescuers were picking their way through scattered human remains and blood-stained office equipment and files to collect survivors, witnesses said.

Amir Hussain, president of the Mardan Bar Association, said he was in a room nearby when the bomb detonated.

“There was dust everywhere, and people were crying loud with pain,” he said.

His suit drenched in blood, he added: “I started picking up the wounded and putting them in cars to take them to hospital. I did not know if the people I was rescuing were dead or alive.”

Lawyers were being targeted because they are “an important part of democracy, and these terrorists are opposed to democracy,” he said.

“Our morale is not dented. It is still high,” he added.

Mardan Rescue spokesman Bilal Ahmad Faizi said 12 people had been killed and 54 injured in the blast.

Police official Faisal Shehzad, said the dead included police and lawyers. Officials said the bomber had up to eight kilogrammes of explosives packed into his vest.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes three weeks after a massive suicide blast killed scores of lawyers in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, in Balochistan.

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At Least 20 Killed In Pakistan Hospital Blast

At least 20 people were killed and dozens more wounded after a blast at a major hospital in the Pakistani city of Quetta, an AFP reporter and officials said, with fears the toll could rise.

Graphic video footage from the scene showed bodies strewn on the ground, some still smoking, among pools of blood and shattered glass as shocked survivors cried and comforted one another.

A large burn mark against white brick appeared to indicate where the explosion occurred.

The blast came after mourners including journalists and lawyers gathered at the hospital following the fatal shooting of a senior local lawyer, officials said. Many of the dead appeared to be wearing black suits and ties.

“More than 20 people have been killed, including two cameramen in the blast,” said Daud Khilji, a senior administration official in Quetta.

The figure was confirmed by an AFP reporter on the scene and senior police official Akbar Raisani, who said at least 40 others had been wounded.

“A number of lawyers and some journalists had gathered at the hospital following the death of the president of the Balochistan Bar Association in a separate shooting incident early this morning,” Akbar Harifal, the home secretary of restive Balochistan province where the explosion occurred, told AFP.

The lawyer, Bilal Anwar Kasi, was targeted by two unknown gunmen as he left his home in the morning for work.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for either attack.

Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has oil and gas resources but is afflicted by Islamist militancy, sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and a separatist insurgency.

Credit: Guardian

Men In Pakistan Encouraged To “Lightly Beat” Their Wives If They…

A constitutional body in Pakistan put forth legislation that would allow men to “lightly beat” their wives if they refuse sex or decline to wear outfits preferred by their husbands.

The Council of Islamic Ideology, also known as CII, proposed the legislation last week and it’s already sparked anger in Pakistan. The 160-page draft has to be finalized before it’s sent off for approval, because the CII cannot make laws. Instead, it gives suggestions to Pakistan’s government and parliament.

In addition to suggesting that men beat their wives for refusing sex, the proposal also suggests that men use “limited violence” on their wives if they don’t bathe after intercourse or during menstruation.

“Hit her in areas where her skin is not too thick and not too thin,” CII leader Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani told the press. “Do not use shoes or a broom on the head, or hit her on the nose or eyes.”

He added, “Do not break any bones or cut her skin or leave any marks. Do not hit her vindictively, but only for reminding her about her religious duties.”

Credit: YahooNews

Pakistan Prime Minister To Investigate Panama Papers Claims

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced Tuesday the formation of a commission to investigate allegations made in the so-called Panama Papers that linked his family to a series of offshore companies.

“I have decided to set up a high level judicial commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court. This commission will decide after its investigation that what is reality and how much weight these allegations should be given,” Sharif said in a TV address broadcast nationwide.

The leaked papers, comprising 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, exposes how some of the world’s most powerful people have secreted their money offshore, and also implicated Sharif’s sons Hasan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz.

“Some of my friends advised me that because there are no allegations against me and that both of my sons are adults and responsible for their own affairs, I should remain separate from this issue… but my dear compatriots, I want the facts to be presented before the nation and every Pakistani should be aware of the reality of the allegations,” he said.

Among those named are three of Sharif’s four children — daughter Maryam, who has been tipped to be his political successor, and sons Hasan and Hussain — with the records showing they owned London real estate through offshore companies administered by Mossack Fonseca.

“I would ask those who repeat these stereotypical allegations and stage everyday a circus, that they go in front of this commission and prove their allegations,” Sharif said, while emphasising that his family’s wealth had been hard earned and they were being victimised.

Sharif’s son Hussain has also denied the allegations saying his family had done “nothing wrong”.

“Those apartments are ours and those offshore companies are also ours,” he said.

“There is nothing wrong with it and I have never concealed them, nor do I need to do that. It is according to British law and laws of other countries that it is a legal way to avoid unnecessary tax via offshore companies,” he told local tv channels when the Panama Papers were first released.

Credit: Guardian

Death Toll In Pakistani Park Bombing Hits 71

Grief enveloped Pakistan on Monday as the official death toll from a suicide bombing at a public park in Lahore rose to 69, with 341 people wounded.

But the local news media put the number of people killed at 71.

The Sunday’s suicide bombing was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban’s Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction, which once declared loyalty to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, saying it was targeting Christians.

The attack within the power base of the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, was Jamaat-ur-Ahrar’s fifth bombing since December.

Reuters reports that at least 29 children enjoying an Easter weekend outing were among those killed when the suicide bomber struck in a busy park in the eastern city of Lahore. Pakistan is a majority-Muslim state but has a Christian population of more than two million.

Police investigators said a suicide bomber had detonated explosives in a vest during the evening rush hour on Sunday at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, one of the largest public parks in this eastern city.

Prime Minister Sharif arrived in Lahore on Monday morning and visited Jinnah Hospital to show solidarity with the victims. He said he was deeply grieved and vowed to bring the culprits to justice.

Later, he met with senior government officials and pledged to eliminate terrorism, The New York Timesreports.

“Our resolve as a nation and as a government is getting stronger, and the cowardly enemy is trying for soft targets,” Sharif said during the meeting. “Our goal is not only to eliminate terror infrastructure but also the extremist mind-set, which is a threat to our way of life.”

A military spokesman, Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa, said intelligence raids had been carried out in three cities in Punjab Province, of which Lahore is the capital, after the attack, and that a “number of terrorists and facilitators were arrested.” However, he gave no further details about the identities of those arrested or whether they were connected to Sunday’s bombing.


Pakistani President Vows To Eliminate Terrorism

Pakistani President, Mamnoon Hussain, has promised in his speech at the military parade in Islamabad on the 76th Republic Day to rid his country of terrorism.


The Pakistan Day is celebrated on March 23 every year, to mark the passage of a resolution that called for the establishment of a separate homeland for the Muslims of British India in 1940.


The resolution was adopted in the meeting of All-India Muslim League in Lahore, now the capital of eastern Punjab province.

He told the military parade that terrorism and extremism had emerged as a new enemy bent upon creating hurdles in the way of development.

Hussain commended the armed forces and the nation for rendering unprecedented sacrifices to defeat terrorism and make Pakistan a peaceful country.

He referred to the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan tribal region against the armed groups and said the operation codenamed”Zarb-e-Azb”is now in its final phase.

“The military operation in North Waziristan against terrorism will continue until the last terrorist is eliminated.

“I am hopeful that the area will completely be cleared of terrorists very soon,” he said.

Hussain paid homage to security personnel who have laid lives in fight against terrorism in the country and also mentioned Pakistani military’s role in the UN peacekeeping in several conflict-stricken countries.

The President said in reference to India, that Pakistan needed peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute and the country did not want arms race in the region.

Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, services chiefs, ministers, diplomats, members of the parliament and thousands of people witnessed the parade under tight security measures.

Mobile phone service was also temporarily suspended in Islamabad over security concerns as officials believe terrorists used mobile phone for activities on such occasions.

Foot columns of Army, Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Frontier Corps, Girls Guide, Boys Scouts, Special Service Group from three Services and President’s Body Guard among others, took part in the parade.

Fighter aircraft of PAF, aircraft of Pakistan Navy and helicopters of Army Aviation also presented flypast. Aerobatics of PAF Sherdil team and JF-17 thunder and F-16 were also part of the parade.



Pakistan Arrests Bacha Khan University Terror Attack Masterminds

Pakistani security agencies on Saturday, January 23, arrested five out of six men accused of being the masterminds behind the attack on a Bacha Khan university that killed 21 people.
“The five facilitators have been arrested and the another one, whom I will call terrorist-A is still at large,” military spokesman Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa told a televised press conference in Peshawar.
According to the officer, “terrorist-A” arranged transportation for the four gunmen who travelled
from Torkhum town, which borders Afghanistan. The suspects also secured accommodation for the assailants and provided them with a rickshaw that they used on the day of the attack. They also helped purchase their weapons in the country’s tribal belt and relied on women close to the accused to help smuggle guns.
“Women wearing traditional veils do not usually undergo a routine body search at the checkpoints,” said Bajwa.
He went on to confirm that authorities suspect the assault on the university was planned and directed by militant groups residing in Afghanistan, adding that one of the organisers had made as many as 10 calls to the attackers on a mobile phone that had an Afghan SIM card.
On Wednesday January 20, four gunmen armed with suicide bomb vests attacked the university located 21 miles outside the city of Peshawar. Under a thick fog, the militants scaled the wall of the university, entered a classroom and opened fire on students and teachers.
The assault was later claimed by a faction of the Pakistani Taleban and bore a chilling resemblance to a December 2014 massacre at a school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people, mostly children.
On Friday, the Taliban faction behind the massacre at Bacha Khan university posted a video message vowing to target schools throughout the country, calling them “nurseries” for people who challenge Allah’s law.

Bomber On Motorbike Hits Government Office In Pakistan

At least 22 people have been killed and dozen others wounded in a suicide attack outside a government office in Pakistan. The attack happened today at an office of the National Database and Registration Authority in the town of Mardan, in the country’s northwest.

“A suicide bomber riding an explosives-laden motorcycle hit the Nadra office in Mardan where a large number of people were standing in queues,” police officer Naeem Khan told Reuters.

Jamat Ul Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, has claimed responsibility, saying the office was a legitimate target as it was a part of the “heathen Pakistan state”.

“God willing, we will target all Pakistani organisations that are either directly or indirectly a part of this war,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement.

Pakistan has been battling armed groups since 2004, in a conflict that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians and security forces personnel.

Pakistan Female Fighter Pilot Dies In Jet Crash

One of Pakistan’s few female fighter jet pilots was killed in a training crash Tuesday, the air force said in a statement, adding that she was the first of its women pilots to “embrace martyrdom”.

Flying Officer Marium Mukhtiar and Squadron Leader Saqib Abbasi were flying a training mission on an FT-7PG aircraft and encountered a “serious in-flight emergency” during the final stages, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said in a statement.

“Flying Officer Marium embraced martyrdom and became the first lady pilot from PAF to attain this great honour,” it said.

The crash took place in Kundian, Mianwali district, about 175 kilometres (109 miles) southwest of Islamabad.

The male officer, Abbasi, sustained minor injuries, the air force added.

“Both the pilots handled the serious emergency with professionalism and courage and tried to save the ill-fated aircraft till the very last minute,” the statement said.

Mukhtiar’s body was flown to an air force base in Karachi where a ceremony was held for her late Tuesday.

Credit: Yahoo

Afghanistan-Pakistan Earthquake Leaves Hundreds Dead

More than 260 people have died, mostly in Pakistan, after a magnitude-7.5 earthquake hit north-eastern Afghanistan.

Tremors from the quake were also felt in northern India and Tajikistan.

At least 12 of the victims were Afghan schoolgirls killed in a crush as they tried to get out of their building.

The earthquake was centred in the mountainous Hindu Kush region, 76km (45 miles) south of Faizabad, the US Geological Survey reported.

The death toll is set to rise as the most severely affected areas are very remote and communications have been cut off.

A girl injured in the earthquake receives medical treatment at a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan (26 October 2015)Image copyrightEPA
Image captionThis girl was among those being treated at a hospital in Peshawar, in Pakistan
The abandoned shoes of Afghan schoolgirls involved in a deadly stampede are seen outside a school following an earthquake in Takhar Province (October 26, 2015)Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe shoes of Afghan girls involved in a deadly stampede at their school in Takhar Province were left outside their building

In Pakistan, the death toll has risen to at least 214, in the northern mountainous areas.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province alone, authorities said at least 179 people were known to have died, and more than 1,800 were injured.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is cutting short a visit abroad and returning home.

Sunnatullah Timour, a spokesman for the governor of the Afghan province of Takhar, told the BBC that as well as the fatalities at the girls’ school, another 25 students were injured in the stampede.

Deaths and injuries have also been reported in the Afghan provinces of Nangarhar, Badakhshan and Kunar, with at least 52 killed in total.

Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah tweeted that the government had asked aid agencies to work with it to help those in need.

As it happened: Afghan earthquake

Injured brought to hospital in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, October 26, 2015Image copyrightReuters
Image captionInjured people were brought to a hospital in Jalalabad, Afghanistan
An Afghan repairs his roof damaged in an earthquake, in Badakhshan, Afghanistan (26 October 2015)Image copyrightEPA
Image captionThese buildings in Afghanistan’s Badakshan province, near the epicentre, were damaged

However as the earthquake originated more than 200km (125 miles) below the earth’s surface, the damage is less than that which a similarly powerful but shallow tremor might cause.

In the city of Karimabad, in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan, a witness who gave his name as Anas told the BBC that the quake had sent a landslide crashing into the Hunza river.

“At first it was as if someone was shaking us. There were about 20 of us and we just held on to each other,” he said.

“Right after that we saw a major landslide. Some people say it was a glacier that came down, some people say it was a hill. It fell right in front of our eyes.”

Pakistan Geological Survey head Imran Khan told the BBC there were reports of landslides disrupting the Karakoram highway between Gilgit and Baltistan. However, he said it was too early to say if any glaciers were destabilised by the quake.

A picture shows a landslide in Pakistan's northern Hunza valley following an earthquake (26 October 2015)Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe earthquake triggered a landslide in Pakistan’s northern Hunza valley

Analysis by Jonathan Webb, BBC News science reporter

Even at its revised magnitude of 7.5, this was a powerful tremor. Around the world only about 20 quakes each year, on average, measure greater than 7.0.

But its focus was deep – much further below the surface than the 7.8 quake which brought widespread destruction to eastern Nepal in April. That event was only 8km deep and was followed in early May by an aftershock with magnitude 7.3.

Similarly, the devastating 2005 Kashmir earthquake was magnitude 7.6 and just 26km deep. Today’s quake, at a depth of more than 200km, appears to have caused widespread but less severe ground shaking.

Heat Wave Kills Over 120 In Pakistan

Pakistan’s largest charity, Edhi Welfare Organization has said that its mortuary has been filled to capacity as a result of heatwave-related deaths. Heat wave in Pakistan’s largest city Karachi and nearby districts of Southern Sindh province has killed at least 120 people, Pakistan’s health officials have said.

The southern port city of Karachi saw temperatures reach as high as 45 degrees Celsius on Saturday, just short of an all-time high of 47C in June 1979. Dr Seemin Jamali, the head of the emergency department confirmed more than 100 people had died at the hospital. “They all died of heat stroke,” she said.

Pakistan’s Meteorological Department said temperatures would likely subside in the coming days, but doctors have advised avoiding exposure to the sun and wearing light cotton clothes.

Electricity cuts in turn crippled their water supply system, hampering the pumping of millions of gallons of water to consumers,  Their Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif has  however warned electric supply companies that he would not tolerate power outages especially doing this period of Ramadan.

In Pakistan, Man Builds Giant Bullet-Proof Cross, Challenges Muslim Extremists To Destroy It

In the recent wave of religious tensions sweeping across Pakistan, a Christian businessman in the country’s largest city is building a giant 14-storey cross outside the entrance to the largest Christian cemetery in Karachi.
Parvez Henry Gill a devout Christian who lives in Karachi, spoke to Washington Post about his mission. He said that God had come to him in a dream one night four years ago and challenged him with the divine task of finding a way to relieve Pakistani Christians from the constant fear of persecution and abuse frequently perpetrated by Pakistan’s radical Muslim community.
Gill says the construction of the giant cross is to encourage fellow Christians to stay in Pakistan despite the religious tensions in the country.
“I want you to do something different,” Gill remembers God telling him.
According to Christian Post, Gill admitted that he wasn’t quite sure what the best way to answer

God’s call was. After many sleepless nights, he awoke one morning with the realization that he needed to build a giant cross.

“I said, ‘I am going to build a big cross, higher than any in the world, in a Muslim country,'” Gill asserted. “It will be a symbol of God, and everybody who sees this will be worry free.”
Four years later, that giant cross is nearly complete, standing at the entrance to the Gora Qabaristan Cemetery in Karachi. With the cross measuring in at 140-feet tall, the cross bar is 42 feet in length.
Parts of Gora Qabaristan Cemetery, which dates back to the British colonial era, have been disrespectfully settled upon, and many of the headstones have suffered defacement by the Muslim community, which makes up about 96 percent of the Pakistani population.
Although many Pakistani Christians, who make up a little over 1 percent of the nation’s population, have been killed, beaten, burned, wrongfully jailed and treated like second-class citizens, Gill hopes that Christians around Karachi will see the cross as a positive sign that Christianity can exist there.
“I want Christian people to see it and decide to stay here,” Gill explained.
Considering the Muslim community in Karachi will have objections to the huge, noticeable symbol of Christianity and will likely attempt to tear it down, Gill said destroying the cross will not be easy because it’s “bulletproof” and sits on a 20-foot underground base.
“Tons and tons of Iron, steel and cement,” Gill stated. “If anyone tries to hit this cross, they will not succeed.”
Gill explained that getting construction workers to build the cross was a challenge.
Upon hiring workers, Gill said he did not tell them what they were building. But when the shape of the cross became obvious, Gill said about 20 of his Muslim workers quit. However, that did not stop other Muslims from continuing to peacefully work on the cross alongside Christians.
One particular Muslim named Mohammad Ali (not to be confused with the boxing legend, Muhammad Ali) works on the cross’ construction as a volunteer for an astonishing 98 hours a week and considers it a “work of God.”
“Henry has supported me well over the years, helping with the birth of my [seven] children, with medicine, their education, so I don’t need a daily wage,” Ali told the Post.
Many of the area Christians are concerned that the cross will only further escalate religious tensions in the area and bring about more attacks against them.
Although many of Gill’s friends are concerned with his safety since they believe he has a target on his back, Gill said he doesn’t worry about the possibility that Muslims are out to get him. He leaves his safety in the hands of God, who was the one who initially called him to take action. Gill referred to Psalm 91.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust,'” Psalm 91 reads. “Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.”
Although Gill said he wanted to build his cross higher than any other cross in the world, his structure does not top the list of the world’s tallest crosses. “The Great Cross” in St. Augustine, Florida, still holds the title for the world’s largest cross, as it stands in at 208 feet in height. Gill said that his cross will be the largest cross constructed in Asia.
When the Cross and its lighting system are finally completed later this year, Gill said he plans to hold an inaugural ceremony to honor its construction and plans to invite Pope Francis, Hillary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Pakistan Helicopter Carrying Foreign Diplomats Crashes

Military helicopter with 17 people on board, including 11 foreigners, comes down in Gilgit-Baltistan region, army says.

A Pakistani military helicopter carrying foreign diplomats in the mountainous region of Gilgit-Baltistan has crashed, killing at four people, the military says.

The MI-17 helicopter was carrying 17 people, including 11 foreigners, the military’s spokesperson Major-General Asim Bajwa said in a statement on Friday.

Both pilots and at least two foreign dignitaries were killed in the crash, he said. The 13 survivors had “varying degrees of injuries”.

The aircraft crashed in the Naltar Valley area of Gilgit-Baltistan, about 300km north of the capital Islamabad. Gilgit-Baltistan is located in Pakistan’s extreme north, and is located at the junction of three major mountain ranges: the Himalayas, the Karakorum and the Hindu Kush. It is home to more than 100 peaks higher than 7,000 metres.

A witness to the crash told Al Jazeera that it appeared that aircraft had suffered a technical issue. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was due to visit Gilgit-Baltistan on Friday, which the diplomats were visiting as part of a four-day tour.  Sharif was en route to Gilgit when the crash occurred, and has now cancelled his visit, state media reported.

He expressed “deep grief and sorrow” over the crash, according to Radio Pakistan. The helicopter that crashed was part of a group of three, all of which were carrying foreign diplomats on their tour of the area.

Credit: Al Jazeera

Police Clash with Anti-Charlie Hebdo Protesters in Pakistan

One person was shot and another injured in clashes between anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters and police outside the French consulate in Pakistan’s Karachi on Friday, an AFP correspondent at the city’s main hospital said.

 Police fired water cannon and tear gas into the air as they clashed with protesters from the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami religious party, which is holding nationwide rallies against the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed by the French satirical weekly. An AFP correspondent at the port city’s Jinnah Hospital said at least two people were injured.

The rallies come a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif led parliament in condemning the cartoons, regarded by many Muslims as offensive, in Charlie Hebdo, whose offices were attacked last week leaving 12 people dead. Thousands of religious party activists are expected to turn out nationwide, including followers of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charitable wing of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group which masterminded attacks on Mumbai in 2008.

The Jamat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban meanwhile issued a statement lauding the two brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo assault, saying “they freed the earth from the existence of filthy blasphemers”. “O enemies of Islam beware! Every youth of this Ummah (Muslim community) is willing to sacrifice himself on the honour of (the) Prophet,” said the statement, which was sent via email by spokesman Ehsanullan Ehsan. Protesters in the northwest city of Peshawar and central Multan have burnt French flags on the streets. Rallies are also being carried out in the capital Islamabad and the eastern city of Lahore.

In addition to rallies held by religious parties, lawyers have vowed to boycott court proceedings to show their displeasure over the sketches. Insulting the Prophet carries the death penalty under Pakistan’s tough blasphemy laws, with 14 people currently languishing on death row. Rights groups say they are used to persecute minorities and wage personal vendettas.Mobs often take matters into their own hands and lynch those accused of blasphemy, and such killers are widely feted.

Credit: Yahoo

Malala Feels “More Powerful and Courageous”

After becoming the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai urged children to “stand up for their rights”.

Malala dedicating the award to “all those children who are voiceless”, she said: “My message to children around the world is; stand up for your rights and that she was “honoured” to receive the award, saying it made her feel “more powerful and courageous”.

She also said she was “really happy to be sharing this award with a person from India”, before joking that she couldn’t pronounce Mr Satyarthi’s surname.

She said she and Mr Satyarthi had decided to invite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif to the award ceremony in December in Oslo in a bid to improve relations between the two.

She went further to thank her father for “not clipping her wings” and said she was proud to have shown that “a girl is not supposed to be a slave”.

She will receive a medal and $1.4m (£860,000) pounds in prize money.

Speaking at a news conference in Birmingham, UK, where she now lives, she revealed she found out the news after being called out of her chemistry class at school. Despite her excitement, she said she attended her afternoon lessons in physics and English.

Suspected Shooters of Malala Arrested

Reports from the Pakistani army says, suspected shooters of education activist, Malala Yousafzai have been arrested.

Army spokesman Gen Asim Bajwa told a news conference on Friday that, “the group involved in the attack on Malala Yousafzai has been arrested.”

He said 10 members of a faction called “Shura”, which the army says is part of the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP), had been arrested in a joint operation with Pakistan’s army, police and intelligence services.

The group had been working under the instructions of Mullah Fazlullah, the chief of the Pakistani Taliban, Gen Bajwa added.

Malala was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen in October 2012 because of her campaign for girls’ education. She has since recovered from the attack, which shocked the world and this shot her to international fame.


Heaviest Rain Kill Over 100 in India & Pakistan

A Pakistani man uses a rope while he wades through a flooded field beside his house following heavy rain in Pindi Bhattian

The heaviest rains said to fall on Kashmir in 50 years caught Indian and Pakistani authorities off guard, with criticism of their disaster preparedness growing on Tuesday as the number of dead hit 420 and thousands remained trapped on rooftops.

On the Indian side of the heavily militarized de facto border that divides the Himalayan region, more than 2,000 villages and the city of Srinagar were submerged.

A senior official of National Disaster Response Force said in New Delhi, that “the damage is shocking, people have been stranded on rooftops of their homes for the last three days in some parts of Kashmir.” The official, who requested anonymity, said he would have deployed disaster response teams in Kashmir before the floods if his office had been given accurate weather predictions.

He said, “we were all caught off guard because there was not a single warning issued by the weather office. The flash floods took us by surprise.”

India’s metrological department forecast heavy rains in Kashmir last week, but the Central Water Commission, which issues flood advisories, has been criticized by Indian media for not warning the state.

A massive rescue operation led by the military was under way in both countries. Some 22,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in India, where 217 have so far been reported dead.

The flooding is the first major humanitarian emergency under new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who called it a “national disaster”. It comes at a difficult time for Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has faced weeks of street protests aimed at forcing his resignation.