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June 29, 2012

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf faces new challenges in first week of premiership

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  • 23 May 2012: Twitter restored in Pakistan after block over Muhammad images
  • 17 April 2012: Supreme Court of Pakistan criticizes authorities over Bhutto murder
  • 17 April 2012: Taliban raids Pakistan prison, 384 escape
  • 9 March 2012: Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton present 2012 International Women of Courage Awards
  • 16 January 2012: Dozens killed, injured after blast hits Shias in Punjab, Pakistan
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the recently-appointed Prime Minister of Pakistan, chaired his first cabinet meeting as premier Tuesday, using it to discuss ongoing power supply problems. The new PM is also coming under pressure from the Supreme Court to reopen a corruption probe into the President.

During the meeting, Ashraf directed the Ministry of Water and Power to recover outstanding dues pertaining to WAPDA from all federal and provincial government departments. He assured the cabinet that the current power cuts being enforced in the country would be taken to a manageable level within a time span of three months.

Following the disqualification of Yousaf Raza Gillani from premiership by the Supreme Court of Pakistan over a contempt of court conviction, Ashraf was appointed as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan in a National Assembly session. Gillani had been discharged from office for failing to open investigations over fraud and corruption charges associated with President Asif Ali Zardari.

Wednesday, just days into his first week in office, the Supreme Court has asked Ashraf to reopen corruption cases against President Zardari, a request which was previously placed upon Ashraf’s predecessor Gillani. The court has requested Ashraf’s response by July 12. The three-judge bench said it expected Ashraf would comply. However, Ashraf had earlier maintained the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had decided not to open the cases and commented that his stance on the issue was the same as Gillani’s. According to the PPP, the judiciary has not acted impartially in the matter.

Raja Pervez Ashraf was born in 1950 in the town of Sanghar in Sindh, where he was brought up. He graduated from the University of Sindh and was involved in agriculture before entering the field of politics. He is originally from Gujar Khan, a small town located in Rawalpindi district in northern Punjab province. Ashraf enjoys the reputation of being regarded as a senior politician of the PPP in the Rawalpindi region.

Prior to being elected as Prime Minister, Ashraf was the federal minister for Water and Power. His term in office oversaw a collapse and inefficiency in the country’s electricity supplies, for which he has been criticized. He has earned the nickname “Raja Rental” due to allegations of his involvement in receiving kickbacks from private rental power plants.

In his first address to the parliament as Prime Minister, Ashraf said “We are standing at a critical juncture. We can either move forward or lapse backward.” Within 24 hours of being elected into office, Ashraf convened a meeting to resolve and discuss the ongoing energy crisis in the country and directed the Ministry of Petroleum to ensure the supply of 28,000 tonnes of fuel daily to power plants, so as to add 1200 mega watts to the national grid system.



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June 23, 2012

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf appointed as new Prime Minister of Pakistan

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Pakistan
Other stories from Pakistan
  • 23 May 2012: Twitter restored in Pakistan after block over Muhammad images
  • 17 April 2012: Supreme Court of Pakistan criticizes authorities over Bhutto murder
  • 17 April 2012: Taliban raids Pakistan prison, 384 escape
  • 9 March 2012: Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton present 2012 International Women of Courage Awards
  • 16 January 2012: Dozens killed, injured after blast hits Shias in Punjab, Pakistan
…More articles here
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Following the disqualification of Yousaf Raza Gillani from premiership by the Supreme Court of Pakistan over a contempt of court conviction, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has been appointed as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan. Gillani has been discharged from office for failing to open investigations over fraud and corruption charges associated with President Asif Ali Zardari.

Raja Pervez Ashraf was born in 1950 in the town of Sanghar in Sindh, where was brought up. He graduated from the University of Sindh and was involved in agriculture before entering the field of politics. He is originally from Gujar Khan, a small town located in Rawalpindi district in northern Punjab province. Ashraf enjoys the reputation of being regarded as a senior politician of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the Rawalpindi region.

Prior to being elected as Prime Minister, Ashraf was the federal minister for Water and Power Development. His term in office oversaw a collapse and inefficiency in the country’s electricity supplies, for which he has been criticized. He has earned the nickname “Raja Rental” due to allegations of his involvement in receiving kickbacks from private rental power plants. Ashraf won enough votes in the National Assembly of Pakistan to become eligible for the office of premiership. It has been predicted that following his appointment, Ashraf will have to face the same challenges by the judiciary which his predecessor faced, namely to pursue corruption cases against the President. However, many political commentators have expressed skepticism that Ashraf, a staunch PPP loyalist, would open cases against Zardari.

In his first televised address to the parliament as Prime Minister, Ashraf said “We are standing at a critical juncture. We can either move forward or lapse backward.” Within 24 hours of being elected into office, Ashraf convened a meeting to resolve and discuss the ongoing energy crisis in the country and directed the Ministry of Petroleum to ensure the supply of 28,000 tonnes of fuel daily to power plants, so as to add 1200 mega watts to the national grid system. He chaired the first cabinet meeting on 26 June 2012, in which he directed the Ministry of Water and Power to “recover outstanding dues of WAPDA from all federal and provincial government departments.” He assured the cabinet that the current power cuts being enforced would be taken to a manageable level within three months.

On 27 June, just days into his first week in office, the Supreme Court of Pakistan asked Ashraf to reopen cases against President Zardari, as predicted. The court has asked Ashraf to respond by 12 July. A three judge bench said it expected the new premier would act on the directives given by the court. However, Ashraf maintained shortly afterwards that the PPP had decided not to open the cases and commented that his stance on the issue was no different to that of Gillani previously. The PPP has said that the judiciary has not acted impartial into the cases.



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February 13, 2011

Pakistani court seeks Musharraf\’s arrest over Bhutto murder

Pakistani court seeks Musharraf’s arrest over Bhutto murder

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Musharraf from his time in power, before the attack

A court in Pakistan has issued an arrest warrant for exiled former President Pervez Musharraf. He is accused of involvement in the 2007 assassination of rival and ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto while in power.

Currently in Dubai and residing in London, UK, Musharraf has been given until February 19 to appear before Rawalpindi’s anti-terror court. If he does not, the court says it will declare him a wanted fugitive and the government has suggested Interpol could be called upon to assist with extradition.

Bhutto served from 1988–1990 and 1993–1996 as Prime Minister. In December 2007 her election motorcade was attacked using guns and a suicide bomb, killing her. Last year two senior policemen were arrested on allegations they provided insufficient protection; prosecutors say the duo claimed they removed security from Bhutto’s motorcade just before it set off from a speaking engagement in Rawalpindi on Musharraf’s orders. The attack came soon after.

Her party, the Pakistan People’s Party, won a majority in the subsequent election and her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, is the current President. In 2008, Musharraf resigned under threat of impeachment. He had seized power from elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999 after a coup from his role as army chief. Growing dissatisfaction over both foreign and domestic policy led to demonstrations until he called the elections.

The ex-President’s lawyer Mohammad Saif refuted the allegations. “This is just a drama. It is all politics,” he said, adding Musharraf was innocent and would not be appearing in court. The former dictator has not commented publically but denied involvement.

Cquote1.svg This is just a drama. It is all politics Cquote2.svg

—Musharraf’s lawyer

He has not been indicted and the court says Musharraf has the chance to defend himself as it conducts preliminary hearings on the claims. His position is that the accusations are a smear campaign led by Zardari. He blamed the Pakistani Taliban for the attack at the time; they deny involvement but lead prosecutor Zulfikar Chaudhry said the Taliban was the source of information showing Musharraf was “completely involved.”

“A joint investigation team, in its report to the court, has found Musharraf guilty of being involved in the conspiracy,” said Chaudhry, who is seeking a murder trial. No extradition treaty exists with Britain, but authorities there do decide on case-by-case requests.

Prosecutors contend he was fully aware of the plot in advance. They claim a questionaire was sent to his London home and multiple attempts were made to get in touch, to no avail. Now, investigators say, no further progress can be made without Musharraf.



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December 4, 2009

Attack on mosque kills 30 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Attack on mosque kills 30 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Pakistan
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  • 18 February 2015: Pakistan releases 173 Indian prisoners at Wagah border
  • 18 December 2014: Nation mourns, world condemns Taliban attack on Pakistan army school
  • 14 August 2014: Indian Prime Minister accuses Pakistan of waging proxy war
  • 27 July 2014: India and Pakistan accuse each other of ceasefire violation
  • 24 July 2014: Security guards attacked in Peshawar, Pakistan
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An attack on a mosque has killed at least 32 people, near Pakistan’s military headquarters in the city of Rawalpindi. There have been conflicting accounts of the attack, but police reported gunfire and at least one explosion at the mosque soon after prayers on Friday morning. It is thought that one or more suicide bombers may have been involved.

Location of the Rawalpindi district in Pakistan.

The attack took place at the Parade Lane mosque, in a part of the city containing several defence department builidngs. Security workers cordoned off the scene while ambulances rushed to take victims to the hospital.

“There was certainly more than one attacker, so there is a possibility that some of them may still be hiding in the vicinity,” said Athar Abbas, a spokesman for the military.

It is the latest in a series of attacks that have rocked Pakistan since the government launched an offensive against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in the northwest region bordering Afghanistan. On Thursday, a bomb blast at a police checkpoint wounded at least two policemen in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

On Wednesday, a suicide bomber killed two guards and wounded eleven other people at naval headquarters in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. The same day, the military said troops killed fifteen suspected miltants, including a top militant commander, in the Swat Valley, the site of a major offensive earlier this year.



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November 2, 2009

Blast near Pakistan army headquarters kills 24

Blast near Pakistan army headquarters kills 24

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Pakistan
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  • 18 February 2015: Pakistan releases 173 Indian prisoners at Wagah border
  • 18 December 2014: Nation mourns, world condemns Taliban attack on Pakistan army school
  • 14 August 2014: Indian Prime Minister accuses Pakistan of waging proxy war
  • 27 July 2014: India and Pakistan accuse each other of ceasefire violation
  • 24 July 2014: Security guards attacked in Peshawar, Pakistan
…More articles here
Location of Pakistan

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Location of the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

A suicide bomber has killed at least 24 people near the Pakistani army headquarters in Rawalpindi when he detonated explosives while riding on a motorbike outside a bank, several hundred metres away from army headquarters. Gunmen had kept up a 24-hour hostage-taking assault last month at those same headquarters.

Many people, such as retired and serving military officials, civilians, had come to the bank to collect their salaries, were killed or wounded by the blast. Many hospitals declared emergency services and rushed to help the people out. All schools and colleges around the city were closed.

Soon after the bomb blast, military personnel patrolled the road and diverted all the traffic in front of the bank and Shalimar hotel beside it. Most of the people who died were wounded in the blast were mainly military officials.

The bomb blast destroyed many window panes in the building and in neighbouring buildings. Raja Sajid, who was an eyewitness to the incident, helped people into the ambulances. Television stations showed ambulances and police vehicles racing to the scene. “I helped the rescuers and put several of them in the ambulances. An old man stained in blood was crying for help,” he said.

The blast comes as the United Nations announced it was withdrawing its international staff from northwestern Pakistan due to security concerns. Militants carried out several retaliatory attacks last month that killed hundreds of people.



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October 30, 2009

Strong earthquake hits northern Pakistan

Strong earthquake hits northern Pakistan

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Pakistan
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Location of Pakistan

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Location of fault lines in the Middle East.
Image: United States Geological Survey.

An earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale hit Pakistan on Thursday at 23.44 local time (+18.44 UTC). The epicentre was in the Hindukush mountain range. The earthquake was mainly felt in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Muzaffarabad, Lahore, and Faisalabad.

The quake lasted approximately for twenty seconds. Many people rushed out of buildings, fearing that they would collapse, but no damage from the tremors was reported.

As the epicentre of the quake was deep in the mountains, along the border with Afghanistan, not much damage was caused. This is the second time that the region was hit by earthquake with an epicenter in the same region of Hindukush.

Last week, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck near the Afghanistan-Pakistani border.



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  • “6.2 magnitude earthquake strikes Afghanistan, Pakistan” — Wikinews, October 23, 2009

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October 23, 2009

Suicide bomb blast hits air force base in Pakistan

Suicide bomb blast hits air force base in Pakistan

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Friday, October 23, 2009

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A suicide bomber attacked the Chaklala airbase in the Punjab province of northern Pakistan this morning, killing at least four civilians and two air force personnel at a security checkpoint.

The Air Force Base
Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeromy K. Cross.

The blast took place in Kamra, approximately 50 km (30 mi) away from Islamabad, near Rawalpindi and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). The attacker had apparently hoped to enter the airbase, but detonated his explosives while at the checkpoint when officers suggested they wanted to search his clothing.

With some outlets reporting as many as eight deaths, between nine and thirteen people were believed wounded, although their identities haven’t been disclosed, said Fakhar Sultan, District Police chief.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the suicide attack, and repeated that his government would not waver from its goal to “root out terrorism”.

This was the second time that Kamra was targeted, the first being in December 2007. International groups have suggested that Pakistan may keep its nuclear-armed aircraft at the base.



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October 16, 2009

At least 40 dead after string of attacks in Pakistan

At least 40 dead after string of attacks in Pakistan

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Pakistan
Other stories from Pakistan
  • 18 February 2015: Pakistan releases 173 Indian prisoners at Wagah border
  • 18 December 2014: Nation mourns, world condemns Taliban attack on Pakistan army school
  • 14 August 2014: Indian Prime Minister accuses Pakistan of waging proxy war
  • 27 July 2014: India and Pakistan accuse each other of ceasefire violation
  • 24 July 2014: Security guards attacked in Peshawar, Pakistan
…More articles here
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Pakistani officials have said that five attacks on government sites across the country have killed at least forty people. The latest attack occurred late on Thursday at a government residential area in Peshawar. Officials said they suspect Taliban militants for being responsible for the attacks.

North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan
Image: Morwen.

Authorities said that the situation in the eastern city of Lahore was under control, following separate attacks on the country’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and two police training centers.

Gunmen with at least one suicide jacket stormed the FIA building at mid-morning. The FIA is an agency responsible for investigating matters relating to terrorism and immigration. Early last year, the building was the target of a suicide truck bomb that killed more than 20 people.

“Reportedly, four men attacked the FIA building and initial reports are that two of them have been killed,” said the provincial interior secretary, Nadeem Hassan Asif Punjab.

Soon after the assault on the FIA began, gunmen targeted two police training centers on the outskirts of Lahore. In the suburb of Manawa, gunmen targeted a center that militants attacked earlier this year. In the other incident, attackers with suicide jackets in Bedian climbed over a wall to gain access to the Elite Force Training Center. It took several hours before security forces were able to gain control of all the sites.

Cquote1.svg Reportedly, four men attacked the FIA building and initial reports are that two of them have been killed. Cquote2.svg

—Nadeem Hassan Asif Punjab

The attacks in Pakistan’s east took place hours after a suicide car bomber targeted a police station at a garrison town about an hour’s drive from the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Speaking to local media, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said intelligence agencies had expected attacks on security sites in the country and that authorities will remain on high-alert. He said the recent violence shows the militants want to bring the frontlines from Pakistan’s violent northwest to Punjab province.

On Saturday, militants with ties to Punjab, as well as the South Waziristan tribal region, assaulted the Pakistani army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Pakistani intelligence officials believe the attacks are a reaction to the military’s raids on South Waziristan. The military is expected to launch a full-scale assault on Taliban militants in the region bordering Afghanistan.



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October 11, 2009

22 hostages freed after raid in Pakistani army headquarters

Sunday, October 11, 2009

22 hostages were freed after military commandos raided a Pakistan army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Sunday that had been taken by militants, reports said. Four militants and three hostages had been killed in the resulting clashes including two senior officers.

The incident began midday on Saturday when several gunmen, disguised in military uniforms, attacked a checkpoint outside the heavily guarded headquarters. The Pakistani military initially said it had the situation under control about an hour after the attack, however, it had been discovered later that some of the militants had escaped into a security office building and were holding hostages.

“Eight to 10 terrorists were involved in this attack,” Pakistani army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said. He was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that “three of the hostages were killed due to militant firing.”

No group has yet claimed responsibility for this attack.

On Monday, a suicide bomber disguised in a paramilitary uniform attacked a UN office in nearby Islamabad, and on Friday, a suspected suicide car-bomber killed some 50 people in Peshawar. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the UN bombing and threatened to target other international organizations and Pakistani government and military locations.

In response to the attacks, Pakistani leaders have vowed to start a new offensive against militants in the country’s tribal regions along the Afghan border.



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February 9, 2008

Scotland Yard says suicide bomb blast killed Bhutto, not bullet

Scotland Yard says suicide bomb blast killed Bhutto, not bullet

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Benazir Bhutto in 2004
Image: Wikipedia user IFaqeer.

British investigators from Scotland Yard have concluded that former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed as the result of a suicide bomb blast and not an assassin’s bullet. The results of the investigation were handed over to Pakistani government officials in Islamabad.

The findings by Scotland Yard support the Pakistani government’s version of how Ms. Bhutto was assassinated after leaving a political rally last December in Rawalpindi. Immediately before she was attacked, Ms. Bhutto was waving to supporters from the roof of her armoured car.

The Scotland Yard detectives concluded that Ms. Bhutto died when the force of a suicide bomb blast rammed her head into the roof of the car. The head of Pakistan’s team investigating the assassination, Abdul Majeed, read the findings of the British pathologist who assisted with the investigation.

“The blast caused a violent collision between her head and the escape hatch area of the vehicle causing a severe and fatal head injury,” Majeed said.

Television footage of the attack shows a single gunman firing shots toward Ms. Bhutto seconds before the explosion. Investigators determined the person firing the gun was also the suicide bomber.

“All the evidence indicates that one suspect has fired the shot before detonating an improvised explosive device,” Majeed said. “At the time of the attack this person was standing close to the rear of Mrs. Bhutto’s vehicle.”

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf invited Scotland Yard to investigate the cause of Ms. Bhutto’s death after some of her supporters charged that the government could be involved in the attack and was covering up circumstances of her assassination.

Officials of Ms. Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party maintain she was shot during the attack. Even after the results of the Scotland Yard investigation were released, party spokeswoman Sherry Rehman insists that an assassin’s bullet hit the former prime minister.

“We clearly saw even on footage that she recoiled from a bullet and she fell inside,” Rehman said. “The issue really is that this gives us all the more reason to ask for a larger U.N. investigation into what led up to the events of December 27 and to what is behind the hand that pulled the trigger and to who are the financiers, sponsors, organizers and perpetrators of this crime.”

The Scotland Yard report notes that despite the lack of a detailed search of the crime scene or an autopsy of Ms. Bhutto’s body, sufficient evidence is available for investigators to draw what they are calling reliable conclusions.

Detectives relied on X-rays of Ms. Bhutto’s head and a detailed examination of video footage of the attack. The British team only investigated how Ms. Bhutto was killed, not who was behind it.

The Pakistani government says an al-Qaida-linked militant chief based on the border with Afghanistan is responsible for her killing.

At least four people have been arrested in connection with the case, including a 15-year-old boy who told police he was among a five-man suicide squad charged with assassinating the opposition leader.

Ms. Bhutto’s death led to widespread rioting and protests and forced a delay of nationwide elections currently scheduled for later this month.



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