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Banned Islamist extremist party in Pakistan wants to expel French ambassador following FATF meet in Paris. Coincidence? Not really.


A banned Islamist extremist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) agreed to suspend its long march to Islamabad from Lahore on Sunday after the Pakistani government announced that it would consider expelling the French ambassador from Pakistan and drop charges against the party’s leader Saad Rizvi.

Rizvi was arrested in April this year during demonstrations against the publication in France of caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Pakistan at that time had refused to expel the French ambassador and instead banned the TLP under the country’s anti-terrorism laws.

“The issue of expelling the French ambassador will be taken to parliament for debate,” Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said, adding that the government would drop charges against TLP chief Saad Rizvi and release those arrested at protests in support of Rizvi.

In return, the TLP agreed to stop the march but said supporters would continue a sit-in at the town of Muridke — near Lahore — until the Pakistani government delivers its promises. It was unclear when Rivzi would be released.

Earlier, at least two policemen died in clashes in Lahore in a bid to stop the marchers, Pakistani authorities said, adding that at least a dozen officers were injured and several police vehicles were torched. Some police vehicles were also seen hijacked by the extremist group.

On the other hand, the TLP spokesperson Saddam Bukhari said “at least seven” of its supporters died in the clashes, and that hundreds more were injured in clashes with police.

The TLP gained prominence as a “blasphemy brigade” in Pakistan in 2017, in an anti government protest allegedly engineered by the Pakistani military to undermine the then civilian government of Nawaz Sharif, who now lives in exile in London.

Pakistan’s military establishment is known to have close ties to Islamist groups in the country and the region and is known for regularly using them to settle its scores with rivals at home and abroad.

These latest protests come at a time when civil-military relations in Pakistan are worsening due to a dispute between Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan with his army chief General Qamar Bajwa over the selection of the next chief for Pakistan’s spy agency the ISI. Some feel that there maybe a connection. Others have pointed out that it could be linked to the international monetary watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recent meet in Paris, France, where it was decided that Pakistan must continue to remain on a “grey-list” for not doing enough to prosecute known terror groups and their leaders residing in the country.

Pakistan is home to at least 12 US-designated ‘foreign terrorist organisations’, according to a new bipartisan US Congressional report.

Will the world silently watch as Pakistani military continues to play with fire, radicalizing its 200 million population in the name of Islam for its personal gains?

Pakistan fails to convince FATF to remove it from the grey-list over concerns of not prosecuting terrorists effectively.


The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Thursday retained Pakistan in its grey list and urged the country to do more to investigate and prosecute senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated terror groups involved in terror financing.

FATF president Marcus Pleyer said after a three-day plenary meeting of the multilateral watchdog that Jordan, Mali and Turkey had been added to the list of countries under increased monitoring or grey list because of serious issues in their regimes to counter money laundering and terror financing.

“Pakistan remains under increased monitoring,” Pleyer told an online news briefing. “Pakistan has taken a number of important steps but needs to further demonstrate that investigations and prosecutions are being pursued against the senior leadership of UN-designated terror groups,” he said.

Pakistan was added to the grey list in mid-2018 and given a 27-point action plan by FATF to control money laundering and terror financing. In June this year, FATF asked Pakistan to implement another seven-point action plan to address serious deficiencies related to money laundering.

In Thursday’s briefing, the FATF President insisted Pakistan must deliver on the sole remaining item in the 2018 action plan by demonstrating that its investigations and prosecutions are targeting senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated groups.

FATF said in a statement that Pakistan had made significant progress in addressing its “strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies”.

The statement added: “Pakistan should continue to work to address its other strategically important AML/CFT deficiencies, namely by: (1) providing evidence that it actively seeks to enhance the impact of sanctions beyond its jurisdiction by nominating additional individuals and entities for designation at the UN; and (2) demonstrating an increase in ML investigations and prosecutions and that proceeds of crime continue to be restrained and confiscated in line with Pakistan’s risk profile, including working with foreign counterparts to trace, freeze, and confiscate assets.”

The FATF is expected to review Pakistan’s performance on its recommendations during the next plenary and working group meetings between February 27 and March 4, 2022.

Pakistan continues to appease terrorists – this time it is the Pakistani Taliban.


In a recent television interview, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan revealed that his government was in the process of negotiating with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a banned terrorist group credited with hundreds of terror attacks in Pakistan, killing thousands of Pakistani soldiers and civilians. According to government’s own estimates, more than 80,000 people have been killed in the last two decades due to terrorism, mainly carried out by the TTP. 

“We are in talks with some of the groups on a reconciliation process,” he said in the interview, given to a Turkish news channel. “There are different groups which form the TTP and some of them want to talk to our government for peace,” the PM further added.

The PM said he is expecting a deal to come out of the talks but again nothing is certain. He also pointed out that he sees dialogue as the only solution and that the government will “forgive” the militants if an agreement is reached.

Pakistan made such peace deals with militants in the past too but they all led to the violent groups being strengthened and challenging the writ of the government even more.

Major peace agreements in the past include the Shakai Agreement in 2004, Sararogha Agreement in 2005, Miranshah Agreement in 2006 and the Swat Peace Agreement in 2009. 

This latest revelation by PM Khan has left many baffled and enraged within and outside Pakistan, especially those among the Pashtun ethnic community, who have been directly affected by the bloodshed unleashed by the Pakistani Taliban since 9/11 when such terrorists were allowed to settle in the Pakistani tribal belt and adjacent areas by General Pervez Musharraf, the military dictator ruling Pakistan until the year 2008. 

Pakistan appears to have a terrible track record of offering peace deals to various terrorist groups. Even now, when the world seems to be questioning the Afghan Taliban and their occupation of Afghanistan, Islamabad has taken it upon itself to campaign for the hardline Islamist group and has been asking the world to accept their occupation as a legitimate takeover. 

Although the Afghan and the Pakistani Taliban have different objectives, much of their ideology overlaps and they usually coexist in the same geographical space, and often provide help to each other. There are media reports that the Afghan Taliban are also involved in the negotiations between the TTP and the Pakistani government, but nothing has been officially confirmed. 

Pakistan is also known to host Kashmiri and anti-India militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, which continue to operate freely in Pakistan, by running religious schools and mosques across the country.

The state, mainly the Pakistani military, has also been promoting Sunni extremist and terror groups like Sipah e Sahaba (now known as Ahl e Sunnat Wal Jamat – ASWJ) to counter ethno-nationalism in Balochistan, and Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) to divide the vote of the mainstream political parties. 

And while Khan’s government is keen to appease the Pakistani Taliban, the group have denied having such talks and called on its fighters to continue their attacks. 

“Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has never announced a ceasefire. The TTP fighters should continue their attacks wherever they are,” TTP spokesperson Muhammad Khurasani said in a statement, released following Khan’s revelations. The group’s attacks have also seen an upsurge in the recent year, with reports emerging that they have once again started to regroup in the Pakistani tribal belt.

‘The authority to appoint DG ISI rests with the PM’ announces the government in a major rebuttal to the Pakistan Army. Is PM Khan’s government doomed?


Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has categorically announced that the appointment of Director General (DG) for the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) is the prerogative of the Prime Minister, thereby effectively rejecting the announcement issued by Pakistani military a few days ago, in which the military had announced a new chief for the spy agency.

“The appointment of the new DG ISI will be done as per the rules and regulations… The authority [to appoint a new DG ISI] rests with the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” the minister told a press briefing earlier today. 

On 6th October, Pakistan’s military media wing the Inter-Services Public relations (ISPR) had announced a major reshuffle with several transfers and new postings including the appointment of Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum as the new DG ISI. He was to replace Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, who was made Peshawar Corps Commander. However, the Prime Minister office, which normally endorses such appointments with an official notification remained silent. 

According to media reports, behind closed doors, Prime Minister Imran Khan told the military chief General Qamar Bajwa that he was not on board with the decision to change the DG ISI which has led to a standoff between the civilian and military leadership. The tussle between the two sides publicly surfaced the first time during the recent National Security Committee meeting, which was attended by Gen. Hameed, as the DG ISI, despite being already transferred out by the military announcement.

This appears to be the first public dispute between Bajwa and Khan, who was brought into power in 2018 with the backing of the military. 

According to insiders, Khan credits Hameed with his victory in office and wants him to continue in the position so that he can secure another term for Khan when general elections take place in 2023. There are also speculations that Khan wants to elevate him to become the army chief next year, when Bajwa finishes his extended tenure in office. However, some argue that with the new law passed by the Pakistani parliament to allow indefinite extensions in the tenure of the army chiefs, it is possible that Bajwa may want to remain in office, and for that reason, he wants a team around him that he can trust, especially within the ISI, and therefore has replaced Hameed with Anjum, so as to strengthen his own position as army chief.

These civil-military tensions come at a time when Pakistan is facing multiple challenges at home and abroad. Inflation has sky-rocketed in the country, touching almost 11%. And then there is the issue of Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan, which Pakistan is also being blamed for, given it provided refuge for the terror group for the last two decades. 

In the past, whenever such civil-military tensions have surfaced, the army, which has ruled Pakistan directly for half of its existence, has been able to send the civilian government home. And such a track record should worry Khan, who is in office with the help of the military, and lacks genuine political support in the country. 

Pakistani military officials & their families exposed in Pandora Papers puts the military-backed government of Imran Khan in a fix


The names of at least eight former Pakistani military officials and their family members have been named in the latest set of documents released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). 

The ICIJ released what is being dubbed as the ‘Pandora Papers’ on Sunday night outlining the names of powerful politicians, business tycoons and other individuals. who  have off-shore investments. The Pakistani military officials who have been named are joined by over 700 other Pakistani nationals who have also made to the list. 

Besides the Pakistani military officials, prominent Pakistanis including cabinet members and key allies of Prime Minister Imran Khan along with top businessmen, are among those 700 named in these leaked papers. 

Revealing the transactions by retired Pakistani military officials, the Pandora Papers show that in 2007, the wife of Lieutenant-General Shafaat Ullah Khan, a prominent general and key ally of then Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf, acquired a USD $1.2m apartment through an offshore transaction.

Major-General Nusrat Naeem, a former director-general of counter-intelligence at the ISI, Pakistan’s premier spy agency, owned a company in the British Virgin Islands that was registered in 2009, shortly after he retired.

Lt. Colonel Raja Nadir Pervez, a retired army official and a former government minister, owned a British Virgin Islands registered company that has been involved in major transactions “in machinery and related businesses” to India, Thailand, Russia and China.

Other military officials include the former Pakistan Air Force chief Abbas Khattak, retired Lt Gen Habibullah Khan Khattak, retired Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal Muzaffarr, retired Lt Gen Khalid Maqbool and retired Lt Gen Tanvir Tahir. Among prominent cabinet ministers, Pakistan’s current finance minister, Shaukat Tarin has also been named with Minister for Water Resources Moonis Elahi.

The Pakistani elite, including  military officials (who are considered at the top of the hierarchy) have often been accused of usurping much of the country’s wealth. According to a recent report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), nearly $17.4 billion or roughly 6% of Pakistan’s GDP is enjoyed by a group of selected individuals.

The Pandora papers include 11.9 million documents which have exposed the “financial secrecy” of world leaders and others in the biggest ever leak so far. This massive reporting effort brought together more than 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries across the globe, including Pakistan.

PM Imran Khan, who ran his election platform on the promise of eradicating corruption, has found himself in the thick of it. He has constituted a government committee to look into the Pandora leaks but the political opposition has called it a sham, asking to involve more independent members to the committee, and not those that have close ties to the government given many of his cabinet members and ministers have been named. 

International cricket abandons Pakistan as the country continues to support terror groups


The English Cricket Board announced last week that it has cancelled the tour of its men and women teams to Pakistan, citing security concerns. The English follow the footsteps of the New Zealand team which abandoned its series in Pakistan on the same day it was supposed to play, again citing security concerns. 

These are worrying signs for Pakistan as it once again finds itself in murky waters.

For close to a decade, Pakistan became a ‘no-go zone’ for international cricket following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus at Lahore in 2009. It is once again stepping into another episode of international isolation because of the worsening security situation in the country.

In the last few years itself, there has been a rise in terrorist related incidents. From 2019 to 2020, there has been a spike of 11% in the number of terror attacks. This trend has carried on from 2020 to 2021 with a 27% increase, as per data compiled by independent observers. 

Even China has come under the cross-hairs of these terrorist groups with attacks against Chinese nationals and interest also on the rise. The latest such attack was in Khyber Pakthunkhwa where a bus carrying Chinese engineers was bombed, killing nine Chinese citizens. This is considered to be one of the deadliest attacks targeting the Chinese in Pakistan.

Who is responsible?

Pakistan has been a victim of terror for long, with thousands of civilian lives lost. The government continues to point to a “foreign hand” behind these attacks, but security experts disagree, citing Pakistan’s hobnobbing with certain terror groups while cracking down on others as a reason for the country’s terror woes.

Pakistan continues to not have a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards terrorism. It has repeatedly chosen to look away with respect to various terror outfits using Pakistani soil as a launchpad for its attacks in the region, as long as their targets are beyond Pakistani soil. Islamabad continues to extend its overt support to many of these groups, like the ones operating against India in Kashmir and also the Afghan Taliban, who lived in Pakistan for the last many years before moving back to Afghanistan after the occupation of the country by the terror group. 

Facing international scrutiny, Pakistan has claimed to take action against some of these terror groups but it is cosmetic and performative, like in the case of Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), who continues to live at his residence despite being convicted, and continues to command the LeT.

Such terror groups help Pakistan in its strategic interventions of subverting peace in Kashmir and countering Afghan nationalism that Islamabad views as a threat to its unity. 

It has recently been lobbying internationally asking the Western nations to recognize the Afghan Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan as a legitimate takeover, despite widespread reports of human rights abuses by the terror group, which has started to target women, minorities and other vulnerable groups in the country.

The good and the bad terrorists

While Pakistan’s support has helped such terror groups to attain power, these very groups also help anti-Pakistan militants by providing them refuge, logistics and other material and non material support, given they have the same Islamist leanings. And hence, as Pakistan continues to ignore those terrorists it considers good as they serve its interests, it ends up being a victim of those terrorists that it deems bad, because most of such groups share geographical, and ideological space with each other.

Now with the recent abandonment of international cricket tours, it appears Pakistan is once again going down the path of isolation due to its own strategic follies. Will this prompt Pakistan to take some real, definitive measures against all terror groups without any distinctions? Or will the world continue to see Islamabad play the blame-game where it takes no responsibility? 

This “Defence Day” Pakistan must stop militarizing the public and spreading hate.


Every year on the 6th of September, Pakistan celebrates ‘Defence Day’ in which it commemorates its “victory” over India in the 1965 ‘Indo-Pak War’. The military takes out a parade in which it displays its latest armaments and missiles. A huge spectacle is created where there are songs sung in praise of the military. And this is even nationally televised.

The narrative of  India being the aggressor and that Pakistan had to defend their country from a “surprise Indian attack”, is all part of an elaborate scheme of the military to fool the public. Such false claims are also taught to children as part of their curriculum, as a result of which they grow up hating India. 

Although Pakistan had far less military and economic resources compared with India, the armed forces of Pakistan, filled with the spirit of jihad, forced an enemy many times bigger to face a humiliating defeat – a Pakistani textbook reads. 

But the fact is that, despite all such claims, Pakistan never won the war. 

The 1965 war was nothing short of a debacle for the Pakistani military. It began with Pak’s ‘Operation Gibraltar’ which was supposed to be a covert operation aimed at subverting Indian control over Kashmir. A key aspect of the plan was to supply the local population with arms in hopes that they would rise up in rebellion against the “tyrannical rule” of the Indians. But in reality, nothing of this sort happened. In fact, it was these locals that altered the Indian forces who clamped down on the Pakistani army, thus putting an end to any Pakistani military’s ambition. 

But this is something that has been conveniently hidden from the public. 

Every year, the Pakistan army uses this opportunity to further militarize the Pakistani public. Claiming such false victories has become an innate feature of the Pakistani military for whom it has become essential in order to maintain its legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Creating a sense of fear and hatred of its neighbor, shadows them from any criticism and allows them to take over a substantial chunk of the dwindling Pakistani economy.  

The Pakistani authorities have even gone to the extent of destroying pieces of literature which narrate anything other than the narrative prescribed by the military, so much so that it even restricted a book by its own top ranked general.

 In 2002, Gen. Mehmood Ahmed released a book titled ‘Illusion of Victory’, which gives an apt narration of the 1965 war which was a series of military misadventures by the Pak forces. One would not be able to find a single copy of this book in the public. Much like this, there are numerous other works by Pakistani scholars who have attempted to correct all misconceptions regarding the war, but have met with stiff resistance from the authorities who continue on to claim victory against India. 

Such accounts of the war enumerate the various blunders committed by Pakistani military’s top brass which led to its humiliating loss, but this, like other facts, has been kept from the public. What Pakistan has won is the hearts and minds of its gullible citizens who continue to believe this myth and celebrate it each year. 

If Pakistan aspires for peace internally and externally, it must stop propagating such lies and start questioning the Pakistan Army, its military adventurism and its militarization of Pakistan and the region. 

Should the ‘Laal Masjid’ glorification of the Afghan Taliban worry the world?


Women & children of ‘Laal Masjid’ in Islamabad are openly supporting the Afghan Taliban. Why does this infamous mosque get away with such glorification of terrorists? Is the state complicit when it comes to such open support for terrorism? What is the history of the

We analyze in our latest report:

Can China trust Pakistan to keep it safe?


Just last month, a Chinese national was shot and wounded in Karachi, when two men opened fire on the car that was carrying them. This attack comes just two weeks after the horrific bombing of a bus transporting Chinese engineers who were working at the Dasu hydropower project in the Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, which led to the loss of nine Chinese lives. And in April this year a suicide bombing was carried out at a luxury hotel in Quetta, which was hosting the Chinese ambassador. 

There has been a growing number of such attacks against Chinese nationals in Pakistan in recent months, mostly linked to Islamist terrorism. And these attacks are not restricted to a specific region but spread across Pakistan.  

Despite consistent pressure from China to investigate and hold the culprits responsible, Pakistan has repeatedly faltered, blaming foreign forces behind these attacks, even though they are clearly the result of Pakistan’s own collusion with Islamist militancy.

Although China is Pakistan’s “great economic hope and its most trusted military partner”, Pakistan also has become a crucial partner for the Chinese. Pakistan is the epicentre of China’s power projection and its link to West Asia and beyond. It is hard to imagine either of them backing out of this relationship at this point of time, no matter how complex it may be. But the crucial question remains, can China really trust Pakistan to protect its interest in the region? 

Soon after the most recent attack where a Chinese national was shot at in Karachi, the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Nong Rong paid a visit to the Pakistani president, Arif Alvi to discuss the matter. Much like the meeting that took place after the bus bombing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, China urged Pakistan to take appropriate actions. An enraged China even sent its own team to investigate this attack. 

This week, the Pakistani Foreign Office blamed Afghan and Indian agencies for these attacks, but will China believe such propaganda? It appears not. Since China has now reached out to the Afghan Taliban in a bid to perhaps deal with the Islamist threat it faces in the region directly.

Last month, China hosted a delegation of Taliban representatives to discuss their intentions. A meeting from which Pakistan was excluded despite being known to have connections with Taliban and despite having facilitated previous meetings between the two parties. 

Although the Taliban and China seem to have come to an agreement to peacefully coexist, one can never discount them for the future, given their closeness to groups that are anti-China, and which are gaining stronghold as the Afghan Taliban gain control of Afghanistan. 

If we were to take a closer look at the threats China faces in Pakistan from growing Islamist violence, we see several groups ranging from the Afghan Taliban, the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the ‘East Turkestan Islamic Movement’ (ETIM) . And all of them are closely connected with each other. 

Pakistan claims to have neutralized the TTP on its soil but several ground reports point to its resurgence in the country. The TTP’s recent attacks on the bus should be a wake up call for Beijing. The same group’s attack on a hotel in Quetta aimed at the Chinese ambassador, was already too close for comfort. There are several reports of the TTP affiliated Islamist groups gaining a stronghold in Gilgit Baltistan region, next to the Pakistan-China border.

But the biggest threat China will face in the coming days will be from ETIM, which may also regroup and resurge, given the rise of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban in the region.

The ETIM or simply known as the Uighur militancy is especially close to home for the Chinese as all of this began in the Xinjiang province of China, where Beijing has intensified its persecution of the Uighur Muslims, and that can serve as a rallying call for the jihadists based in the region to unite and fight against China. In the past, Uighur militants have been using the Afghan-Pak border as its base. 

The ETIM is also being supported by the TTP which has issued statements against China condemning the persecution faced by Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. 

When the ETIM was first raised in 1993, China requested Pakistan to put an end to their activities. It took Islamabad nearly a decade (2003) to kill its leader Hasan Mahsum, while receiving economic assistance from China all along. 

Is a cash-strapped Pakistan doing the same once again? Is the threat against China growing so that Pakistan can get more aid and financial assistance from China and fill its coffers?

China has already invested money into creating and training a new Pakistani security force called the Special Security Divisions (SSDs). Two such outfits have been created with 15,000 troops each from the Pakistani Army.

But can China rely on Pakistan and trust it to provide the safety and security it seeks when operating in Pakistan? The case of the United States for one, tells us that Pakistan has betrayed its partners in the past. 

In the 1980s, the Americans got involved in the proxy war against the Soviet Union through Pakistan. The US supplied Pakistan with arms and ammunition and even with large sums of money to be used against the Soviets by training and arming jihadists in Pakistan and sending them to Afghanistan. But it later emerged that Pakistan inflated the costs of the Afghan war and used these resources in funding their jihadist agenda in Kashmir against India

Later, when the American and Western allies bombed Afghanistan to end the Taliban rule following 9/11, orchestrated by Al Qaeda that the Taliban were protecting, most of the Afghan militant leadership and its allies fled to Pakistani tribal area and Balochistan. Pakistan has been long accused of looking the other way, allowing the Afghan Taliban and their affiliates refuge in the country. But this is no longer just an accusation as it was even acknowledged by Pakistan’s current interior minister in an interview recently.

Beyond the threat from Islamic militancy that has linkages to the Pakistani state, the Chinese must also face the brunt of various rebel groups originating from the Balochistan province where China is heavily invested especially in the port city of Gwadar. The Gwadar port is an essential part of China’s ‘Maritime Silk Route’ (MSR), an initiative through which Beijing seeks to dominate the crucial Indian Ocean Region (IOR). 

But operating in Balochistan has had its risks. There has been growing discontent among the local population in the province as it remains severely under developed, despite being rich in natural resources.

Owing to this, the province has seen an insurgency that recently unified itself under the Baloch Raji Aajoi Sangar (BRAS). BRAS is an umbrella organization working towards the independence of Balochistan. Under this organization, there are various armed groups that operate, who view China and Pakistan as threats. While the groups typically work separately to achieve their aims, they have been known to band together to execute attacks. Of the multiple groups under BRAS, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) seems to be the biggest threat that China faces. In the last few years, the BLA has attacked Chinese interests several times. These include an attack on the Pearl continental Hotel in Gwadar, which is a destination for various Chinese delegations, the attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi, and the attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange.

With threats from the Baloch and the Islamists, China will face a difficult and tough time in the coming years achieving its strategic and economic objectives in Pakistan and beyond, given the rising violence in the region, especially with the imminent fall of Kabul, being predicted in the coming weeks.

The spillover effects of this violence are already being felt in Pakistan with Chinese interests coming under renewed terror attacks. Is mainland China next?

Is Pakistan Army trying to kill exiled Pakistani dissidents in the West?


Following last month’s arrest of Muhammad Gohir Khan in London, who was charged with conspiring with other unknown individuals, to murder an exiled Pakistani blogger and political activist, Ahmad Waqas Goraya in Netherlands, the Metropolitan Police have warned other Pakistani dissidents living in the UK of plots against them aimed at committing serious harm. The Met police has reportedly told Pakistani exiles who have been criticizing Pakistan’s all-powerful military, that there is a credible threat to their lives. A comprehensive report published by the Guardian which enumerates the various episodes of attacks against Pakistani exiles in Europe, certainly has raised fresh concerns over authoritarian regimes targeting foreign dissidents. These factors point to the fact that Pakistan has now developed a ‘hit list’, targeting dissidents living in Europe.

Pakistan has had a long history of silencing its journalists who dared to speak against the military or the government. Although they had restricted themselves to journalists and activists living within Pakistan, a new trend has emerged of them seeking to silence its dissidents who are living abroad. The recent deaths of Pakistani dissidents Karima Baloch in Toronto, Canada, and her friend Sajid Hussain in Sweden, both under mysterious circumstances, had already raised the level of concern among Pakistani dissidents living abroad. Karima was a prominent Baloch activist who campaigned for an independent Balochistan. Similarly, Sajid Hussain was a journalist who had also been covering the extensive and brutal human rights violations committed by the Pakistani military in Balochistan. It is hard to rule out their deaths as mere accidents. Given the recent arrest of Gohir Khan, the possibility of foul play has once again come to the fore. It was only last year that a Pakistani government memo was leaked which accused several journalists living in Europe and the US of writing “anti-state content” for foreign media under pseudonyms, as per the report in the Guardian. Such memos show how committed Pakistan is in its attempts at silencing dissent of any form, virtually anywhere in the world.

However, the government in Islamabad has vehemently opposed the Guardian report, calling it “unsubstantiated allegations” and that these are part of the “blatant on-going misinformation campaign against Pakistan.”

But international human rights groups and media watchdogs disagree. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), there have been numerous cases where journalists have been threatened and that “it’s widely understood that these types of threats could only come from Pakistan’s military or intelligence service”.

In the Guardian report, Ayesha Siddiqa, a political scientist based in London has also claimed to have received an ‘Osman warning’ (Threat to Life Notice) from the Metropolitan Police.

She and many Pakistani intellectuals like her, had fled their homeland owing to the imminent threat to their lives and their loved ones in their home country. They continue to do their intellectual work in Europe and North America believing that they were now safe from the tyranny back home in Pakistan but it appears that is no longer the case. 

What is further worrying, is how there are reports of these Pakistani loyalists who have infiltrated the dissident community living abroad and sharing names and information back home. The mysterious deaths of Karima Baloch and Sajid Hussain could well be the doing of such infiltrators and Muhammad Gohir Khan could well be a part of such a network too. It has become hard to ascertain how many more Gohir Khans are out there, threatening the lives of the Pakistani dissidents in exile.

While speaking to the Guardian, former UK High Commissioner to Pakistan, Mark Lyall Grant, who was also UK’s former National Security Advisor said that, if there was definite proof that members of the Pakistani Military and its intelligence wing ISI, had been threatening exiles living in the UK, the matter would be taken seriously by the British government and appropriate actions would be taken. He said, “If there is illegal pressure, in particular on journalists in the UK, then I would expect the law enforcement agencies and the British government to take notice of that and to make an appropriate legal and/or diplomatic response.”