PAKISTANI GETS DEATH PENALTY FOR KILLING RIVAL

LAHORE, Pakistan A Pakistani court has handed down death sentence to a fashion model for killing a fellow model, Abeera, through poisoning over three years ago.

Lahore’s additional district and sessions Judge Ayesha Rashid Tuesday announced the verdict in the presence of convict Azma Rao alias Tooba (a dance event manager) and also imposed a fine of Rs 500,000 on her.

However, the judge acquitted two other suspects – Farooq Rehman and Hakeem Zeeshan – of the charges giving them the benefit of the doubt.

In 2014, 20-year-old Abeera’s body was found from Lorry Adda bus stand in Lahore.

Authorities later arrested her friend Tooba and two of her accomplices with the help of CCTV footage.

The prosecution stated that Tooba wanted to kill her former husband Babar Butt and she made her friend Abeera to help her in the plan.

The deceased first agreed to join the murder plot but later stepped back which made Tooba angry, it said.

Tooba considered her former husband responsible for the death of their two-month-old daughter.

Babar and Tooba were married 10 years ago and divorced in 2012.

Tooba in her statement alleged that Babar and Yousuf Khoker, a cameraman of a local Urdu daily, whom she is thought to have murdered in early 2014 also by poisoning, were responsible for the death of their two-month-old daughter.

She claimed that Babar had refused the treatment of their two-month-old daughter who had fallen ill which lead to her death.

She further claimed that Babar had asked her to accompany him to a party a day after their daughter died.

According to police, Tooba wanted her ex-husband dead as he had supplied Khoker with some inappropriate pictures of her which would have a profound impact on her reputation.

This was also the alleged reason for Tooba murdering the cameraman.

Police after the interrogation also found that Tooba had filed a complaint against Babar for raping her after which he agreed to marry her.

A separate trial is underway in the murder case of cameraman Khokhar.

Source: Nam News Network

7 KILLED, OVER 20 INJURED IN PAKISTAN’S LAHORE BLAST

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan At least seven persons, including four policemen, were killed and over 20 others injured Wednesday evening as a blast hit a police check post in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, the provincial health minister said.

Punjab province Health Minister Khawaja Imran Nazir said that the death toll has risen to seven after three of the wounded succumbed to their injuries during treatment.

Hospital officials feared that the death toll might further rise as some of the injured were in critical condition.

Deputy Inspector General of Lahore Police Haider Ashraf said that the blast hit a police check post in Raiwind Town located on the outskirts of Lahore, the provincial capital of Punjab province.

Police and rescue teams rushed to the site and shifted the bodies and the injured to the Sharif City Hospital, Jinnah Hospital and Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in the city.

Nature of the blast is not known yet. However, local media reported that a bomb fixed in a motorcycle exploded with a big bang soon after a police patrolling party reached the check post near a famous religious center.

The Bomb Disposal Squad of police is examining the site to determine the nature of the blast.

Security forces and police have launched a search operation in the area and a security high alert has also been announced in the city. No group has claimed the incident yet.

Chief Minister of Punjab province Shahbaz Sharif condemned the attack and asked the authorities concerned to provide the best available medical treatment to the injured.

Source: Nam News Network

DEATH TOLL OF SUICIDE BLAST IN PAKISTAN’S LAHORE RISES TO 9

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Death toll of the suicide blast that hit a police check post in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore Wednesday evening has risen to nine, police officials said.

Deputy Inspector General of Lahore Police Haider Ashraf said that the death toll rose after two of the injured succumbed to injuries during their treatment, adding that five policemen and four civilians were killed.

Over 20 persons, including six policemen, also sustained injuries in the blast.

The police officer said that a suicide bomber exploded his explosives-laden vest near a group of policemen at a check post in Raiwind Town located on the outskirts of Lahore, the provincial capital of eastern Punjab province.

The bomber attacked the police personnel who were checking the people arriving to attend the country’s biggest annual religious congregation.

Additional contingents of police and rescue teams rushed to the site and shifted the bodies and the injured to nearby hospitals.

Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif condemned the attack and asked the authorities concerned to provide the best available medical treatment to the injured.

Security forces and police have launched a search operation in the area and a security high alert has also been declared in the province.

Following the attack, Police Chief of Punjab Arif Nawaz Khan directed to intensify search, sweep, combing and intelligence based operations across the province, the home of some 100 million people.

According to the local media reports, the Pakistani Taliban claimed the attack.

Source: Nam News Network

Taliban’s Studied Silence on Dialogue Offer Raises Peace Hopes in Pakistan, US

ISLAMABAD, The Afghan Taliban’s silence to the latest offer of unconditional talks by the Kabul government has raised hopes in Islamabad and Washington the insurgent group may be mulling over joining the peace process. Previous offers of negotiations had been promptly rejected.

Pakistani military leaders contend their renewed push to bring insurgents to the table has led to the change in behavior.

A senior military official with direct knowledge of the developments said a recent open letter from the Taliban seeking direct talks with the United States was also an outcome of Pakistan’s fresh push in partnership with other key stakeholders to try to end the Afghan war.

He spoke to a group of reporters on condition of anonymity.

The path ahead is fraught with troubles and requires all stakeholders to use their respective influences to nudge warring Afghan sides to the negotiating table, he said.

The peace-making effort, he added, is also leading to improvement in Islamabad’s relations with Kabul and Washington.The official explained Pakistani civilian and security institutions, including the spy agency ISI, are in contact and talking to Taliban representatives. We are sincerely trying to persuade them and their allied Haqqani group to join the Afghan reconciliation process, the military official insisted.

But he cautioned the matters could not be resolved overnight because decades of hostilities have led to an extremely complex situation in Afghanistan.

There are groups in the Taliban and some of them are in contact with Russia, some with Iran and some with Pakistan, the official noted.

Pakistan maintains security forces have eliminated all militant sanctuaries on its soil, but Taliban insurgents use nearly three million Afghan refugees as cover and military operations could result in collateral damage and trigger a violent militant backlash.

No comment yet

So far, the stance [regarding Afghan President Ghani’s offer] has not been shared with me, so I am unable to offer any comments, Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, has said in response to VOA’s repeated queries.

The Taliban’s reaction to past peace overtures by Kabul had been that it would join intra-Afghan talks only after all foreign forces leave Afghanistan.

The insurgent group would also justify its refusal, saying Afghan rulers are American stooges and engaging in talks with them would be simply a waste of time because they are not authorized by Washington to determine the fate of foreign occupation of Afghanistan.

Ghani’s proposed peace plan, includes removal of the names of Taliban officials from international blacklists, allowing insurgents to open an office in Kabul to pursue their goals through non-violent means and join the national political process.

General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan acknowledged Wednesday he is also detecting signs the Taliban does not intend to reject outright Ghani’s latest offer that is backed by all international stakeholders.

We know a lot is going on right now, I mean, this offer, I think, is being considered [by the Taliban]. We haven’t seen a public response [to the dialogue offer] which is interesting, the general said in Kabul.

International efforts

Nicholson cited wider diplomatic and battlefield pressure on the insurgents as well as Washington’s ongoing intense dialogue at various levels and collaboration with Islamabad.

I think some of the pressure is the U.S. policy putting pressure on Pakistan and that pressure is being felt, the American general noted.

Nicholson described Kabul’s peace overture as a well thought out plan and stopped short of rejecting U.S. involvement in peace talks with the Taliban while commenting on the group’s open letter to Americans.

The idea of talking exclusively to the U.S. is not in our approach to this. We think it is an Afghan-led process, the general reminded.

It’s encouraging that these offers are on the table and that we would appear to be in a point where they could start having a conversation on this, said Nicholson. He cautioned though, peace processes take years to shape up.

Pakistani officials also note an improvement in relations with the Afghan government and speak of a better understanding developing between Pakistani army General Qamar Javed Bajwa and President Ghani.

Islamabad’s recent diplomatic engagements with Washington have also started paying dividends and allowed the two sides to understand each other’s concerns stemming from the protracted Afghan hostilities. Last week, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led a high-level delegation to the United States and held extensive talks with senior Trump administration officials.

Both sides have been tight-lipped about these meetings, though privately Pakistani officials report significant” progress. They say in return for Islamabad’s renewed attempts to help start Afghan peace talks, Washington has also begun to accommodate some Pakistani concerns.

Officials cited last week’s U.S. drone strike in an eastern Afghan border region that killed 21 militants, including senior commanders, of the outlawed Pakistani Taliban, which is plotting terrorist attacks against Pakistan. At Islamabad’s persuasion, the U.S. State Department on Friday offered a reward of $5 million for information on Mullah Fazlullah, the fugitive chief of the Pakistani Taliban, who is believed to be operating out of Afghanistan.

Source: Voice of America