Daily Digestible News- October 25, 2017
Abbasi meets Shahbaz as calls for PML-N leadership change rise
In Lahore on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif amidst growing calls for a leadership change in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N).
The two discussed the possible stepping down of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif as current PML-N chief to pave way for his brother Shahbaz to assume leadership of the ruling party.
A member of Abbasi’s cabinet- Riaz Pirzada-has advised Sharif, not once but twice, to hand over the party’s reins to Shahbaz to “preclude chaos” in the ruling party that may result from Nawaz “openly criticising the judiciary for his unceremonious ouster” in July 2017. Several politicians in the PML-N’s powerful Punjab chapter are also said to have started closed-door meetings in support of Shahbaz.
Pakistani blogger claims he was tortured by “state intelligence agency”
Applying for asylum in Britain, a Pakistani blogger, Aasim Saeed claims he was taken to a secret detention facility and beaten by a “state intelligence agency” for several weeks when he along with four other liberal social media activists were abducted in January 2017.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported that 728 people were forcibly “disappeared” in 2016- with Pakistan’s intelligence services being accused of “disappearing” social and ethnic nationalist activists, as well as those accused of links to militant groups, instead of producing them in court.
Speaking with BBC, Saeed said that prior to his disappearance he ran a Facebook page critical of the military establishment in Pakistan called “Mochi”. Read here, for more information on the incident.
Foreign Office: India’s move to hold talks with Kashmiris not sincere
The Indian government’s initiative to hold talks with ‘all groups and individuals’ in India-held Kashmir was disapproved by the Foreign Office on Tuesday.
India appointed ex-intelligence chief Dineshwar Sharma as the new interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, going back on its three-year-old pledge to never talk to the All-party Hurriyat. Sharma has been given “complete freedom” to talk to”all groups and individuals”, including the Hurriyat- the group New Delhi sees as an agent of Pakistan.
Islamabad said that India’s new measures do not seem “sincere and realistic” in a statement issued on Tuesday. The Foreign Office said that the move shows that India has recognized the “futility of the use of force and the indispensability of dialogue.”
Tillerson delivers tough message on importance of driving out terrorists
A day after traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday where he met with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abassi, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and the heads of the army and intelligence services.
Tillerson told Abbasi that Pakistan is “so important regionally to our joint goals of providing peace and security to the region and providing an opportunity for a greater economic relationship.”
“[Pakistan is] committed in the war against terror,” stated Abassi, “we have produced results and we are looking forward to moving ahead with the US and building a tremendous relationship.”
Saudi Crown Prince vows ‘a country of moderate Islam’
In a country known for its extremely conservative rule, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salaam promises to restore “moderate, open” Islam.
At an economic forum in Riyadh, Prince Mohammad said, “We are returning to what we were before, a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world.” He has pushed for reforms since his appointment on June 21.
He is generally regarded as being behind King Salman’s decision to lift the ban on women driving. The crown prince’s statement is the most direct assault by a high ranking official on the country’s conservative religious regime.
Imran Khan condemns abduction and conversion of Hindu girls
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan addressed a Hindu community celebrating their religious festival of Diwali- highlighting how the minority groups in Pakistan, like the Hindu community, are exploited whereas they should be given their right to coexist. According to DawnNews, Khan stated that circumstances that cause unrest among religious minority groups should be avoided.
On the matter of the forceful conversion of Hindu girls to Islam, Khan stated that ” the extremists are mistaken that forcibly converting someone to Islam will bring them virtue.” Khan further emphasized that the injustices incurred by the weak segments of the society were due to the lacking system of the law.