Pakistan Buries Teen Killed In Texas School Shooting

Relatives and residents carry the coffin of slain Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh, who was killed during a school shooting

Relatives and residents carry the coffin of slain Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh, who was killed during a school shooting in Texas, following her body’s arrival from the United States, in Karachi on May 23, 2018.  IMRAN ALI / AFP

 

Hundreds mourned a Pakistani exchange student killed in a mass shooting at a Texas high school last week during her burial in Karachi Wednesday.

Sabika Sheikh was among the 10 people gunned down at a high school in Santa Fe last Friday when a heavily armed student opened fire on classmates.

Relatives sobbed and hugged as Sheikh’s remains arrived at her family home in a casket draped with a Pakistani flag.

The body was then taken to a public meeting ground where hundreds gathered to say prayers and pay their respects before the burial at a nearby cemetery.

“My daughter is a martyr and martyrs don’t die,” Sheikh’s father Abdul Aziz said after the prayers.

Officials participating in the ceremony labelled her killing an act of terrorism.

“The whole nation stands by the Pakistani girl who was martyred in a terrorist attack in the US. May God give patience to her parents and family,” provincial governor Mohammad Zubair told reporters after the funeral.

Hours earlier, a Pakistani honour guard escorted Sheikh’s casket off a plane at Karachi’s Jinnah International airport during a ceremony overseen by government officials and US consul John E. Warner.

Following the funeral, Pakistani Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai — who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ rights to education — also weighed in, calling for an end to school violence.

“I hope leaders in the US, Pakistan and around the world will do justice to the lives of Sabika, her classmates and their teachers by doing more to stop violence in schools,” said Yousafzai in a statement.

Sheikh had been in the US on a State Department-sponsored exchange programme but was due to return home in mere weeks ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Despite strained relations between Washington and Islamabad, the US has long been a favoured destination for Pakistani students studying abroad, with thousands enrolling in American schools every year.

Sheikh’s death came just three months after another school massacre in Parkland, Florida killed 17 people, sparking an unprecedented grassroots, student-led gun control movement.

The shooting in Santa Fe was the 22nd such incident at a US school this year, according to media reports, a disturbing statistic in a country where firearms are part of everyday life and there are more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually.

AFP

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Pakistan Tribesmen End Protest Over Killings

Palestinian demonstrators burn tyres near the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, as Palestinians readied for protests over the inauguration

Palestinian demonstrators burn tyres near the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, as Palestinians readied for protests over the inauguration of the US embassy following its controversial move to Jerusalem on May 14, 0218. PHOTO: MAHMUD HAMS / AFP

 

Thousands of protesters in Pakistan’s tribal belt along the Afghan border have ended a days-long protest against a string of recent assassinations, organisers said Friday, as pressure mounts on the military over its security operations in the area.

Demonstrators and an AFP reporter in the area said more than 3,000 tribesmen launched the sit-in protest Sunday in North Waziristan’s Mir Ali after three tribal elders were shot dead in the last week by unidentified gunmen in separate incidents.

Following the killings, the protest also spread to the neighbouring South Waziristan tribal district.

“The protest ended Thursday after authorities assured us of more security measures in the area,” Noor Islam, president of the “Youth of Waziristan” that organised the rally, told AFP.

Islam said at least eight tribesmen have been killed in total in a series of murders this month, enraging locals who say authorities have not done enough to ensure their security.

Mohammad Ayaz — a senior government official in North Waziristan — confirmed that tribesmen ended the protest after receiving written assurance that officials would increase patrols in the area.

According to the agreement, seen by AFP, security forces will launch joint-patrols with tribal militias along with the deployment of more military troops and police officers to the area.

Officials have also vowed to expedite compensation payments to families whose homes were damaged or destroyed in recent military operations.

North Waziristan was once a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Haqqani network where the extremist groups operated with impunity and allegedly murdered hundreds of tribal elders.

The army launched an operation under US pressure in mid-2014 in a bid to wipe out militant bases in the area and end the near decade-long Islamist insurgency that has cost Pakistan thousands of lives.

Security has increased dramatically across the country in the operation’s wake.

However, people from the tribal belt are increasingly calling for investigations into abuses committed by the military during the offensive.

In February, the newly formed Pashtun Protection Movement began holding rallies across the country, demanding the formation of a commission to investigate extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances by authorities.

The group has also accused the military of backing insurgents fighting in Afghanistan, saying the policy has destabilised the tribal belt.

The military has repeatedly denied backing militant groups.

AFP

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US Diplomat Involved In Fatal Traffic Accident Leaves Pakistan

  Pakistan has allowed a US diplomat involved in a fatal traffic accident to leave the country, an official said

 

Pakistan has allowed a US diplomat involved in a fatal traffic accident to leave the country, an official said Tuesday, following a weeks-long standoff and street protests over the incident.

The diplomat — described as the defence attache in an earlier report — departed Islamabad late Monday, a senior Pakistani government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“The US diplomat has been allowed to return to the US in light of the High Court’s decision that he had diplomatic immunity,” the official said.

A US embassy spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

A sports utility vehicle in which the diplomat was travelling hit a motorcyclist and his passenger at an intersection in Islamabad last month.

Atiq Baig, 22, died of head injuries while his cousin, who was the passenger, was injured.

Weeks later, a second accident involving a US diplomat colliding with a motorcyclist also made headlines in the country but only resulted in minor injuries.

Tensions are simmering between Islamabad and Washington as the US pushes Pakistan to crack down on safe havens it allegedly provides for militants.

In January the White House suspended nearly two billion dollars in funding in an attempt to force Pakistan to halt its alleged support for the Afghan Taliban and other Islamist groups.

Pakistan has long denied the accusation.

In the wake of the fatal collision, the Pakistani media drew repeated comparisons with the fatal shooting of two men by CIA contractor Raymond Davis in the eastern city of Lahore in January 2011.

After months of negotiations, a Pakistani court eventually freed Davis following the payment of $2 million to the families of the dead men.

AFP

 

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Five Students Dead, 12 Swept Away After Pakistan Bridge Collapses

  At least five students were killed and twelve others were reported missing on Sunday after a bridge collapsed at

 

At least five students were killed and twelve others were reported missing on Sunday after a bridge collapsed at a tourist site in Pakistani Kashmir, officials said, adding there was little hope of finding survivors.

The bridge, which overlooked a ravine in mountainous Neelum district, collapsed after some three dozen university students walked across it to view a waterfall.

“We have recovered four bodies of boys and one of a girl. Twelve others are still missing and we don’t have any hope about them (surviving) because the water is very cold”, said Chaudhary Imtiaz, a senior government official in Kashmir’s capital Muzaffarabad.

Imtiaz told AFP eight other students were injured in the accident.

Local police official Saleem Durrani confirmed the toll and said that the authorities had posted a warning near the bridge, telling visitors to walk across it in small numbers because it was only designed to accommodate five people at a time.

“The bridge collapsed because around 40 people climbed it… at the same time,” Durrani said.

“Its cemented foundation could not sustain the weight”, he added.

The scenic Himalayan region is a popular tourist destination but lacks infrastructure.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, but both claim the territory in full.

AFP

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23 Killed After Twin Coal Mine Collapses In Pakistan

Pakistani miners shift an injured colleague on a stretcher to carry him to the hospital after the collapse of coal

Pakistani miners shift an injured colleague on a stretcher to carry him to the hospital after the collapse of coal mine in Quetta on May 5, 2018. PHOTO: BANARAS KHAN / AFP

 

Twenty-three people were killed and 11 wounded after gas explosions tore through two neighbouring coal mines in southwestern Pakistan, officials said Sunday. 

Shortly before midday on Saturday, a build-up of methane caused an explosion and tunnel collapse at a mine in Marwaarh, east of Quetta, the capital of the fossil fuel-rich Balochistan province bordering Iran and Afghanistan.

Jawaid Shahwani, the top government official in Quetta, said 16 of the 25 people inside the mine at the time were killed, with the remaining miners rescued and taken to hospital for treatment.

Around three hours later, a mine 25 kilometres (16 miles) to the west at Spin Carez collapsed in similar circumstances, killing seven of the nine miners inside.

Provincial mines minister Saleh Baloch told AFP that all miners in both accidents had been accounted for and rescue operations had ended.

Pakistani mines are notorious for poor safety standards and bad ventilation.

A total of 43 workers died in 2011 when gas explosions triggered a collapse in another Balochistan colliery, also owned by the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation.

Balochistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces by area but its roughly seven million people have long argued they do not get a fair share of its vast gas and mineral wealth.

The beleaguered province has also battled against separatist insurgents and Islamist militants for more than a decade.

AFP

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16 Miners Killed In Pakistan Gas Explosion

Pakistani miners shift an injured colleague on a stretcher to carry him to the hospital after the collapse of a

Pakistani miners shift an injured colleague on a stretcher to carry him to the hospital after the collapse of a coal mine in Quetta on May 5, 2018. BANARAS KHAN / AFP

 

Sixteen miners were killed and nine others were wounded Saturday when a coal mine collapsed due to a gas explosion in southwestern Pakistan, officials said.

The accident occurred in Marwaarh, 45 kilometers (28 miles) east of Quetta, which is the capital of oil and gas-rich Balochistan province bordering Iran and Afghanistan.

“The roof caved in following an explosion triggered by the accumulation of methane gas, killing 16 miners and wounding nine others, two of them seriously”, Jawaid Shahwani, the top government official in Quetta, told AFP.

Shahwani said 25 workers were inside the mine when the explosion occurred, adding that all the injured miners had been rescued and taken to a hospital.

“We are trying our best to recover bodies but it will take time as most of the bodies are buried very deep”, he said.

Pakistani mines are notorious for poor safety standards and bad ventilation.

At least 43 workers were killed in March 2011 when explosions triggered a collapse in a coal mine in Balochistan, which has battled separatist insurgents and Islamist militants for more than a decade.

Balochistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces but its roughly seven million people have long argued they do not get a fair share of its vast gas and mineral wealth.

AFP

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Pakistan Defence University commends NAF, pledges support

Molly Kilete, Abuja Participants from the National Defence University (NDU), Pakistan, have commended the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), for its

Molly Kilete, Abuja

Participants from the National Defence University (NDU), Pakistan, have commended the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), for its commitment in curbing the Boko Haram terror menace and other security challenges in Nigeria.

This comes as Pakistan has promised to strengthen existing ties between the two militaries and provide the necessary support to the NAF in the country’s war on terror.

Air Commodore Tariq Usman Abbas gave the assurance when he led a delegation of participants and Directing Staff of the University, who are on a study tour of Nigeria, to the NAF headquarters in Abuja.

A statement by the Director, Public Relations and Information, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, reads:

“The Nigerian Air Force (NAF), yesterday 19 April 2018, played host to participants from the National Defence University (NDU), Pakistan, who were on a study tour of Nigeria. The team, which was made up of 3 Directing Staff and 15 participants, chose the NAF as one of the establishments to visit because of the long-standing relationship between the NAF and the Pakistan Military. 

“The leader of the delegate, Air Commodore Tariq Usman Abbas, expressed the appreciation of the people and Government of Pakistan for the continuous cooperation it had enjoyed from the NAF and the entire Nigerian Armed Forces. He also lauded the NAF for its commitment to the security of Nigeria.

“The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Air Vice Marshal Muhammadu Muhammed, stated that the strong collaboration between Nigeria and Pakistan facilitated the delivery of 10 Super Mushshak trainer aircraft on schedule. He described both countries as ‘twin brothers’ and urged the participants to take advantage of the visit to learn more about Nigeria as they were potential strategic thinkers in whose hands the security of the world would revolve in the nearest future.

“It would be recalled that the NAF, in December 2017, received the delivery of 5 Super Mushshak aircraft, bringing the total number of the Super Mushshak aircraft purchased from Pakistan to 10. The purchase of the aircraft made it possible for the NAF to graduate cadet pilots before their commissioning as officers, a feat last recorded about three decades ago.”

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Corruption: Pakistan Court Orders Lifetime Ban Against Former Prime Minister

Pakistan’s supreme court on Friday banned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from participating in elections for life, as his embattled

Pakistan’s supreme court on Friday banned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from participating in elections for life, as his embattled ruling party prepares for nationwide polls due later this year.

The ruling was the latest in a series of blows to Sharif who was ousted from the premiership over graft allegations last July.

Supreme Court Justice Umar Ata Bandial described the ban on Sharif as “permanent” in a judgement read to the court, clarifying the length of an earlier ruling that disqualified the former premier from office.

The decision was immediately panned by Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party (PML-N).

“Today once again, the three-time elected prime minister of Pakistan has been disqualified for life,” state minister and Sharif ally Marriyum Aurangzeb told reporters outside the court.

Last month, Nawaz’s brother Shahbaz Sharif formally took charge of the PML-N after an earlier court ruling banned the former premier from heading the party.

The Sharifs and their supporters have repeatedly denied allegations of corruption, suggesting the former prime minister is the victim of a conspiracy driven by Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.

Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s 70-year history — roughly half of it under military rule — to be removed before completing a full term.

The court ruling comes months ahead of expected general elections, pitting the PML-N against its main rival, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party led by former cricket star Imran Khan.

Despite the numerous court rulings against the PML-N, the party has won a string of recent by-elections proving it will likely remain a force in the next polls.

AFP

Malala Leaves Pakistan After Emotional Visit

FILE PHOTO  Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize Malala Yousafzai gesturing during a session at the Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in

FILE PHOTO  Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize Malala Yousafzai gesturing during a session at the Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, eastern Switzerland. PHOTO: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai Monday left for Britain after an emotional four-day visit to Pakistan, officials said.

Malala made a surprise return visit to Pakistan last week more than five years after she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for advocating girls’ education.

“Malala Yousafzai along with her family left Islamabad,” a government official told AFP.

An airport official confirmed her departure.

During a reception at the Prime Minister’s Office last week, she tearfully said during a televised speech that it was “a dream” to finally return home.

“Always it has been my dream that I should go to Pakistan… in peace and without any fear.

“And I think that it’s my old home again … so it is actually happening, and I am grateful to all of you.”

Malala briefly visited her native Swat valley over the weekend during her first trip back to the once militant-infested region where she was targeted.

“I left Swat with my eyes closed and now I am back with my eyes open,” she said, referring to how she was airlifted out in a coma after the attack in 2012.

“I am extremely delighted. My dream has come true. Peace has returned to Swat because of the invaluable sacrifices rendered by my brothers and sisters,” she said at a school outside Mingora, the district’s main town, where she was escorted by the Pakistani military.

The trip was a highly symbolic moment for Pakistan, which regularly touts Swat as a success story in its long battle with extremism as it defends itself against accusations by the US and others that its northwest remains a safe haven for militancy.

Since leaving Pakistan, the 20-year-old Malala has become a global symbol for human rights and a vocal campaigner for girls’ education.

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, she has continued her campaigning while pursuing her studies at Oxford University.

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6 Years After Fatal Shooting, Malala Yousafzai Returns To Pakistan

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has returned to Pakistan for the first time since being shot by Taliban militants.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has returned to Pakistan for the first time since being shot by Taliban militants.

Miss Yousafzai, now aged 20 and a vocal human rights activist, was shot in the head by a gunman for campaigning for female education in 2012.

In an emotional speech at the prime minister’s office, she said it had been her dream to return “without any fear”.

Details of the surprise trip are being kept secret for security reasons.

Pakistani television broadcast video showing her arriving with her parents at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport under tight security.

“Always it has been my dream that I should go to Pakistan and there, in peace and without any fear, I can move on streets, I can meet people, I can talk to people,” Miss Yousafzai said in a televised address from the PM’s house in Islamabad.

“And I think that it’s my old home again… so it is actually happening, and I am grateful to all of you.”

The trip is expected to last four days. Officials from her Malala Fund group are travelling with her, local media report.

It has not been confirmed if she will visit her family’s home region of Swat in the country’s rural north-west – once a militant stronghold – during her visit.

Many on Twitter called for a warm welcome for the activist after news of her overnight homecoming broke.

Recall that at just 11years, Miss Yousafzai began writing an anonymous diary for BBC Urdu about her life under Taliban rule.

She later became a vocal advocate of female education amid militant suppression in Pakistan, and was deliberately attacked on a school bus at the age of 15. Malala’s story brought international attention.

The Pakistani Taliban said at the time that they had shot her because she was “pro-West” and “promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas”.

The teenager sustained life-threatening injuries in the attack, and had to have part of her skull removed to relieve swelling on her brain.

After receiving emergency treatment at a military hospital in Pakistan, she was transported to the UK for further treatment and to recover in Birmingham, where her family continue to live.

Since her recovery, Miss Yousafzai has continued to speak up for children’s education and rights around the world.

She set up the Malala Fund with her father Ziauddin, with the goal of “working for a world where every girl can learn and lead without fear”.

In 2014 she became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She and Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi were jointly awarded it for their efforts for children’s rights.

She has continued campaigning while pursuing her studies, and is now studying at Oxford University.

Source: BBC News

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