1965: A WAR


Chronicles of insurmountable defence

Information from the 1965 war archives reveal how the conflict unfolded day by day

Our Correspondent

As sudden as India’s failed 1965 offensive against Pakistan was, the build-up leading to it had been underway for much of the year. New Delhi had been creating war hysteria as early as April that year, and had positioned its troops close to the Pakistan border. Around two months later, in June, the Pakistan Air Force intercepted a trespassing Indian Air Force Ouragan fighter jet, forcing it to land near Badin. 

Meanwhile, the Indian government had initiated a campaign of harassment aimed at Pakistanis who visited India. Seven Pakistanis were arrested in Kanpur on flimsy grounds by Indian authorities, even though they had been visiting their relatives with all required valid documents.

The incident came after then Indian defence minister Y B Chavan admitted that the Indian army had been finding it ‘very difficult’ to stifle the struggle of Mujahideen in Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).  

Set on a collision course

On Sept 1, Indian forces attempted to build up pressure in the Rajauri, Mandi, Sona Marg and Srinagar sectors. According to India’s own account, its forces suffered heavy losses and humiliation at the hands of Azad troops.

Then information minister of Pakistan, Khawaja Shahabuddin, issued India a warning: if its forces continued aggressive actions across the ceasefire line in Kashmir, Pakistani forces would have no choice but to retaliate. His words went unheeded.

At 5:19 pm, four IAF Vampire fighter jets took off from Pathankot and entered Pakistani airspace to attack Pakistani ground troops. To their utter surprise, the intruders were welcomed by two PAF F-86 Sabres. All four Indian aircraft were shot down in an episode so demoralising for the IAF that withdrew all 130 Vampires from frontline service.

Admitting the loss the next day, Indian PM Lal Bahadur Shastri continued making threats towards Pakistan. Responding to the provocations, then president Ayub Khan addressed the nation. “Indian policy towards Pakistan and Kashmir from the very beginning had been set on a collision course,” he said, as he warned Delhi it would be alone responsible for consequences. The GHQ ordered all formations to occupy concentration areas if hostilities escalated.

In 1965, the Indian military seriously outnumbered Pakistan armed forces. India had three times the strength in terms of numbers when it came to infantry, air force and navy.  Even so, India’s military performance did not live up to its strength on paper. On September 2, Kashmiri mujahids wiped out an entire Indian platoon while assaulting Indian positions, convoys and military installations. Azad Kashmir Forces, with support from the Pakistan Army, also pressed ahead unchecked in the Chhamb, taking 150 POWs and capturing 15 Indian tanks.

On Sept 3, Shastri addressed his nation again. Fearing that Pakistan could launch its own air raids, he told the people of India to brace for hard days. 

Meanwhile, a senior Pakistan Army officer single-handedly captured 30 Indian soldiers. Armed with just a pistol, Lt-Col Naseerullah Babar mistakenly landed his helicopter at an Indian position in Bhimbher. However, Displaying exceptional presence of mind, he convinced the enemy troops that it was they who were surrounded.

The day also saw another intense air battle that resulted in three out of six intruding IAF aircraft shot down. A fourth was forced to land at the Pasrur airfield and only two intruders made it back home.

On Sept 4, India revealed its true intent. The country’ foreign minister, Indira Gandhi, announced: “ India wants a showdown… to settle the Kashmir issue once and for all.”

The GHQ directed all Pakistani formations to take defensive measures. In the Jurian sector, a platoon commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Shabbir Sharif charged a strongly held enemy position again and again. His third attempt broke through enemy lines, and he was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurrat for his leadership and courage.

The PAF, meanwhile, drove back 40 Indian warplanes as they attempted to intrude Pakistani airspace. To ward off any Indian threat from the seas, Pakistan also deployed its first long range submarine, PNS Ghazi. 

After a night of fierce fighting, the Jurrian sector fell to Pakistani forces under Maj-Gen Akthar Malik on Sept 5. The victory also brought Pakistani troops within three miles from Akhnur, another vital point for Indian forces. At the same time, PNS Ghazi was in position to attack Indian Navy cruiser INS Mysore and its escorts. 

‘Full scale war’

On September 6, Shastri declared ‘full-scale war with Pakistan’. At 0400 hours, Indian forces crossed the border, launching attacks on Lahore, Sialkot and Kasur.

Pakistani troops repulsed the three-pronged Indian attack, inflicting heavy casualties. At Wagah and Bedian, a number of Indian soldiers were captured, and several Indian tanks and artillery positioned at the Lahore front were destroyed. 

As Jassar, from where India launched the Sialkot offensive, Pakistani troops dislodged Indian troops from a Ravi river enclave. As many as 200 Indian soldiers were confirmed to have died in the battle, with unofficial estimates suggesting an actual toll as high as 800. 

India suffered a crushing defeat at Chhamb as well, with 35 Indian soldiers made POWs and several Indian tanks and artillery cannons captured. 

The PAF launched a daring airstrike on Pathankot Air Base, annihilating 22 Indian warplanes on the ground. 

Pakistan forces pushed the invaders back the next day, inflicting heavy losses. The PAF also destroyed another 31 Indian warplanes. The Indian spokesperson was forced the admit the offensive was halted, but threatened to open a front on East Pakistan.

Driven to desperation, Indian forces launched attacks on non-military installation on Sept 8. IAF targeted hospitals and courts in Wazirabad, Chiniot, Sargodha and Sialkot, while India dropped paratroopers near Rawalpindi, Lahore, Shahdara, Wazirabad, Jhelum, Sukkur, Badin and Karachi. The airborne troops, however, lacked conviction to fight and were taken captive. 

Pakistan Army, meanwhile, repulsed another Indian attack on Lahore, Sialkot and the country’s desert regions, knocking out 21 Indian tanks.

PNS Ghazi took the fight to Indian shores, destroying a radar station at Dwarka. Meanwhile, PAF bombers carried out accurate raids on IAF bases at Halwara and Jodhpur, reducing India’s air strength by a fifth.

India in disarray

By Sept 9, India appeared in disarray. A serious rift emerged between its PM and president, and Delhi ordered the arrest of 500 Pakistani visitors in hubris. 

Pakistan continued to push Indian troops behind the border, with decisive blows at Wagah, Kasur, Sialkot and Gadaro. The PAF, meanwhile, maintained complete air superiority, destroying 28 IAF warplanes in dogfights, 26 in air raids and two using AA guns. The PNS Ghazi kept the Indian Navy from reacting the loss at Dwarka.

India’s defence minister accepted severe armour losses on Sept 10 and admitted Indian troops had been pushed back from Kasur. The PAF shot down two more IAF planes over Lahore, the ever-increasing losses dividing the Indian government into two camps. India began air raids in East Pakistan.

On September 11, Pakistani forces launched a swift limited offensive against Indian troops poised for another attack on Kasur and Lahore. After fierce fighting Pakistani troops captured Khem Karan, before fighting back a desperate Indian counter attack. 

Pakistani forces also halted an Indian advance on the Hariki-Burki road, and captured positions in the Chhamb-Akhnur and Sindh-Rajasthan sectors. As many as 36 Indian tanks were knocked in the Sialkot sector.  The PAF, meanwhile, destroyed the entire Indian MiG-21 fleet at Halwara, and two fighter-bombers at the Bagh Dogra airbase in West Bengal.

Between Sept 11 and 12, India launched eight major attacks in the Lahore sector and the heaviest tank offensive in the Sialkot sector. Despite encountering heavy fire from tanks, Maj Aziz Bhatti continued to direct artillery and embraced martyrdom, as the troops he commanded held firm. He was honoured with the Nishan-e-Haider.

In the Sialkot sector, Pakistani forces destroyed 45 enemy tanks and captured many posts in Sulemanki. Similarly, Pakistani troops captured a post well inside Indian territory in Chhamb sector. As many as 350 Indian soldiers surrendered in Khem Karan as well.

Dominating the battlefields

On Sept 13, Pakistan Army pushed back an Indian advance and captured the Munabao railway station. Pakistani troops also repulsed Indian attacks in the Sialkot sector with heavy losses. In the air, PAF shot down six IAF cargo planes and a Gnat fighter.

Another Indian attack in the Lahore sector was repulsed the next day, and the enemy fled leaving 150 dead and 300 wounded behind. Pakistani troops captured another post in the Gadaro sector and continued to shell Indian positions in the Sialkot-Jammu sector.

Indian launched another attack in the Sialkot sector on Sept 15, but encountered more heavy losses. PAF continued to pound Indian forces from the air, destroying 22 tanks and 51 vehicles.

On Sept 16, Pakistani troops, supported by PAF, halted Indian attacks in the Sialkot-Jammu and Wagah-Attari sectors. India lost 36 tanks in the failed offensive. In the Gadaro sector, Pakistan troops continued to push ahead well inside Indian territory. Separately, the PAF shot down two IAF Hunter jets. 

On Sept 17, IAF warplanes targeted a civilian train, killing 20 Pakistani passengers in the cowardly attack. Meanwhile, Pakistani troops continued to dominate Indian forces in Khem Karan, Sialkot and Chhamb. Over the next five days, Indian forces continued to suffer heavy losses to sustained pressure from Pakistan Army and Air Force.

On Sept 18, Pakistani troops took over the Rajput fort of Kishengarh in Rajasthan. On Sept 20, PAF bombers carried out more accurate strikes on IAF bases in Ambala, Jodhpur, Jammu, Jamnagar and Halwara.

On Sept 22, President Ayub announced Pakistan had accepted the UN ceasefire resolution, which Indian PM Shastri to called a ‘sigh of relief’ for Indian forces. Even so, India launched last ditch attacks in the Wagah-Attari and Khem Karan sectors the next day, but failed to make any gains as Pakistani forces held firm in defence.

National spirit

Looking back on Pakistan’s greatest strength

Where artillery and infantry are significant to wars, the secret to Pakistan’s success in 1965 was its leadership and unity

Khalid Mehmood

A nation divided is perhaps on the shortest end of any war. It has little chances of winning against its foes, when it is struggling to win over its own people. In retrospect, the Islamic Republic’s greatest advantage in the Indo-Pakistan war was not the scale of its artillery or the numbers in its infantry. It was its ability to bring the nation under a single, united front. Five-and-a-half decades later, as border tensions grow, the country is once again in need of the same national spirit of unanimity that it had coursing through its veins on the eve of 6 September 1965.

  “India had already blitzed into Azad Kashmir, where a majority of our troops were engaged. Later, seeing the opportunity, they also attacked Chamb Jooriyan and then set their sight on Lahore. We were ambushed from all sides and the enemy was eyeing an entry into Lahore through the Wazirabad Rad. However, that is when Pakistan turned from a country into a nation united. Our naval forces went some 1349.9 nautical miles into Indian Territory and hit a significant target, beating India in its own game,” recalled Lieutenant General (rtd) Khalid Lodhi. “If one reads through the pages of history, there is a lot that we can learn from Pakistan’s victory in 1965,” he added.

 On the other hand, speaking to The Express Tribune General Talat Masood said that while national spirit is imperative, it is equally important for a country to be equipped with state-of-the-art defense machinery in today’s day and age. “Undoubtedly, there was terrific leadership and intelligence back then, which primarily enabled Pakistan to win against all odds. Although we still retain a brilliant intelligence and the mightiest of forces, but even after 55 years Pakistan has struggled to maintain adequate finances. The word around us has progressed but are still strapped for cash and dependent on foreign nations for aid, which can prove unfavorable in times of crisis.”

 According to the military veteran, the county is in dire need of improving its economy, now more than ever, that the vision of war has changed. “In 1965, the spirit of patriotism was still fresh from the days of partition. People back then, be they military or civilians, knew firsthand what freedom meant and the struggles went into achieving it. Today, we are far ahead in terms of artillery, infantry and leadership. All we need is financial independence and the same spirit of nationalism that we experienced in 55 years ago.”

 Harking back to the events of 1965, Pakistan Army veteran General (rtd) Mustufa shared that he was a 10th grade student when the word of war first spread. “My father was a military man, so I experienced the war unravel before my own eyes. Back then, the army was the artillery and it was in fact the entire nation that was collectively fighting to defend its borders from enemy forces. There wasn’t an ounce of fear, we all trusted each other the utmost,” he recalled. “Although we were in the midst of a blitz, all ground-traffic, aircrafts and trains remained functional as per routine. We had limited weapons, and yet our air force managed to shoot down some 114 enemy aircrafts while the navy hammed the final nail in the enemy’s coffin in Chaunda. Today, our country needs to unite once again and stand firm under a single vision as we did in 1965. Our unity, is still our greatest strength.”

When Indian military paid for its hubris

Kashmiri leader urges Pakistan to respond decisively to all threats 

Our Correspondent

Pakistani troops marched into Indian territory, east of Lahore. They pushed the Indian army across the border at Wagah, completely decimating their opponent’s morale.  The move sent shock waves all the way to New Delhi and beyond. 

More than five decades later, each year, on 6 September, the Indian leadership is reminded of the resounding defeat it faced at the hands of Pakistan’s armed forces. While India has made several attempts to scrub history, Pakistan continues to commemorate the victory loudly. The war ended with an UN-sponsored ceasefire.  The conflict, like all others that have happened since then, was fought over Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

In the occupied territory of Kashmir, Pakistan Army’s approval ratings have been high ever since. No attempts to dilute the history, by the Indian regime has ever succeeded. 

“As a Kashmiri representative, I would say India must see how powerful Pakistan is as a nation and as a military force. It must learn from its mistakes,” cautioned Altaf Ahmad Bhat, convener of Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement (JKSM). 

Recalling the details of the 1965 battle, Bhat said: “India can try all it wants, but the power and vigor of a Mujahid will always remain unmatched.”

During the conflict that lasted barely a month, Pakistan made gains in the Rajasthan desert. It captured a significant portion of territory and caused massive loss to the Indian army.  Since then, Pakistan celebrates 6 September every year as "Defence Day" with a 21-gun salute and a grand parade.

Bhat said instead of learning a lesson, India continues to try its luck, and each time, it receives a stinging blow.  “In 1965, India made a mistake, it repeated the same mistake recently by claiming it had attacked Pakistani territory in Balakot. And the rest is history,” said the Kashmiri leader. 

“India fails to learn from its mistakes,” quipped Bhat, who openly criticizes the Modi regime for its actions in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. 

Bhat said India should revisit history and review the performance of Pakistan’s military and air force. “The Pakistani air force was fully charged, and Indian side was unable to handle it,” he said. 

The Kashmiri leader urged Pakistan’s military to respond decisively to any and all threats by India. He said India, under Modi, is only good at sabre-rattling, and nothing more. “Pakistan has one of the top trained military and India needs to know that before it plans its next military misadventure,” said the Kashmiri leader.

“Pakistan’s military must respond with full force once again to free Kashmir from the oppressive regime’s control,” urged Bhat. 

In a direct warning to India, Bhat said, “Pakistan is an atomic power and a strong Muslim nation. India can never match that power,” he said. 

Reminding India of the 1965 defeat, Bhat said, New Delhi must resolve the Kashmir issue as per the UN resolution that its leaders agreed. Otherwise, he said, India must prepare for another defeat and perhaps a regional war.

A vivid recollection of the 1965 War

People who survived the War remember the events that took place after the attack

Asif Mehmood

Even after more than five decades, elderly people living in the border areas of Lahore still remember the events of the Pakistan-India War of 1965.

During the war, most of the area situated east of Lahore, from the Bambanwala-Ravi-Bedian (BRB) Canal to the border, was under Indian occupation but the Pakistan Army challenged the enemy despite their battalion being significantly bigger in number. After the defeat, the Indian Army had to perform the last rites of their dead soldiers on the Pakistani soil. 

The Bhasin area of Lahore is located only a few kilometres close to the Pak-India border. The area was occupied by India during the 1965 Pak-India War, but only a day later, the Pakistan Army successfully recaptured the village. According to native elders of the area, firing started at 3 AM.

Recalling the day the war broke out, Abdul Ghafoor, an elder, said that when the firing started, he thought that the Rangers might be chasing smugglers.

“When the firing began to escalate, we realised that war had broken out. At first, the Pakistani planes responded to the Indian Army. Our planes dropped bombs on the Kanjari Bridge in India which had caused considerable damage to the enemy," he recalled.

Another elder, Mohammad Sadiq, said that he was about 13 years of age at the time of the 1965 war. “I remember that my mother woke all of us up 4 AM when the Indian Army attacked us. It was prayer time,” he said. 

To respond to the Indian aggression, the Pakistan Army first damaged the bridge of the BRB Canal so that the Indian Army could not cross it. Those who remained on the other side of the canal were then taken to the other side by the soldiers.

Mohammad Sadiq said that most of the elders, women and children of the village had crossed the bridge successfully. Only some young boys were left behind who were assisting the Pakistan Army.

“They were mostly doing the legwork, like pick up boxes of bullets for the soldiers, bringing them food, or water. My siblings also told me that there was vast open space in the Bhasin area where the Mayo Community. All fallen soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces were cremated there.”

Muhammad Ahmad Khan, who was also a young boy in 1965, said that the war was over after 17 days but they returned to their homes after about nine months. 

"Everything was destroyed. We lost our houses, shops, school. Nothing was left,” Ahmad Khan recalled. “The Indian Army even destroyed wooden doors, windows and roofs of houses. When we returned, there were rotten corpses, bones and weapons of Indian soldiers in the fields. It was a horrible sight. I can never forget it.” 

He added that many families, who had migrated from India in 1947, had already seen the horrors of war and partition and had lost everything. With the India-Pakistan war of 1965, their properties and belongings were destroyed once again. “Nonetheless, these brave and resilient people living in the border area did not give up and rebuilt their homes. Thousands of cattle were also killed in the war,” he said.

The elders of the area said that unlike today when people have their licensed weapons, at that time, everyone had sticks and axes to fight. "If India makes the mistake to attack ever Pakistan again, then the people residing in the border areas will reply sternly," they stressed.


The mystery of Pakistan's flattening Covid-19 curve

NCOC officials break down the country's coronavirus containment strategy, offering explanations for its seemingly miraculous recovery

A nation on the same page

Speaking to The Express Tribune, officials from the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the nerve centre of Pakistan’s Covid-19 containment efforts, offered some explanations as to why the country succeeded where others have not.

“Our strategy has been charactised by a ‘whole of the nation’ approach with unprecedented cooperation between the federating units,” one official explained. “Strategy-making has been centralised based on the national leadership’s intent and the maximum power has been delegated to NCOC by the National Coordination Committee,” he said.

“Because of this, we have been able to be flexible, adaptive and responsive in implementation at the operational level,” the official added. “All federating units have participate in this effort wholeheartedly and our consultative process with them has been dispassionate, open, two-way, evidence-based and data-driven.”

“The establishment of NCOC has also made decision-making much more efficient by ensuring any Covid-19 related decision in any department and ministry is taken under a single roof,” another official said. “Decisions once made are uniformly applied; any corrections suggested thereof are referred back to NCOC for consideration and recalibration of approach.”

“Due to its apolitical nature and participative, non-intrusive and all encompassing mode of operation, there is a high degree of trust in NCOC,” the official added. “This is why the Track, Trace and Quarantine (TTQ) and resource management strategies we devised were carried out with all out support from the federating units and the media.”

Between a rock and a hard place

For a country like Pakistan, managing a global pandemic was never going to be an easy task. Where the developed world had the luxury to enact strict lockdowns from the get go, Pakistan due to poverty and lack of infrastructure found itself staring at a tightrope.

“We foresaw that the abruptly emerging Covid-19 crisis would be a protracted challenge for Pakistan,” an NCOC official said. “As the crisis emerged, we followed it up with reflexive national responses, but against the backdrop of widespread poverty and socioeconomic fragility, we realised these initial responses would not be scalable,” he told The Express Tribune.

Pakistan’s approach had to factor in both economic and social costs, the officials said. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has estimated Covid-19 would wipe out as much 7.2 per cent manhours in the Asia-Pacific region alone, leaving up to 125 million workers without full-time work.

“In Pakistan, we estimated job losses could range from six to 16.5 million, many of which would be permanent,” the official said. “As many as 67 million people could potentially be pushed below poverty, increasing malnutrition and thereby reducing disease resistance.”

Concurrently with the pandemic, Pakistan faced the largest locust threat in 25 years, officials said. These harvest disruptions, coupled with supply chain issues, would have severely affected food stock availability across the country, particularly in less developed areas, they added.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, officials said the NCOC’s Covid-19 strategy was devised along four strands: national awareness, disease prevention and containment, healthcare optimisation and buildup, and managing socioeconomic fallout.

“To increase national awareness of Covid-19, we carried out timely risk communication along with issuing guidelines and standard operating procedures to prevent the virus from spreading,” an official said. “We also undertook measures to reduce panic, manage expectations and prevent fake information from proliferating,” he added.

The second strand, disease containment, was broken down further into a ‘disease management improvement’, enhanced testing, TTQ, smart lockdown, SOP compliance and community mobilisation strategies, officials said. Side by side, the country also took measures to manage international travel and borders, along with high-risk events.

“Our daily testing capacity increased from 472 tests in February to over 60,000 tests, and the number of labs increased from four in the same month to 133,” the official revealed. “As many as 2.36 million tests have been conducted so far, and currently we are maintaining an average of 22,000 tests per day,” he said.

“Our lockdown strategy, meanwhile, has been adaptive and we move from general lockdowns to smart lockdowns and now, micro smart lockdowns, to zero down on the disease in the long term,” the official added. “At present, 62 micro lockdowns, which encompass small streets or a multi-storey building, have been imposed in 18 districts.”

Arguably the biggest challenge in terms of disease containment was managing high-risk events such as the easing of the lockdown, Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha and Independence Day.

“We issued comprehensive guidelines for effective management of Eidul Azha to all federating after a deliberate consultation process,” the official said. “The NCOC monitored all pre-Eid activities for SOP compliance,” he added.

To optimise healthcare, the government embarked on a hospital ramp up, procuring critical care and protective equipment, improving resource management, and training and motivating healthcare workers, officials said.

“The federal government has so far added 2,690 oxygenated beds to the national health system,” the official said. “Domestic oxygen manufacturing was ramped up and we also took measures to ensure availability of essential medicines, while promoting indigenous developments that could help fight Covid-19,” he added. “The NCOC looked for ways to strengthen the IT base, and launched initiatives such as Telehealth and Yaran-e-Watan.”

On the socioeconomic front, the government took measures such as announcing a stimulus package and ramping up the Ehsaas programme, officials said. The government encouraged a gradual re-opening of the economy, and passed special anti-hoarding and anti-smuggling ordinances to ensure food and economic security.

The payoff

At present, all major indicators suggest a downward trend in Pakistan’s Covid-19 cases, officials said. “The Covid-19 test positivity rate is persistently holding in single digits,” said one official. “The basic reproduction number of the virus – R0 – is also lower than 1, although it has started creeping up again.”

They added that mortalities had also remained low after Eidul Azha, and average of 12 has been recorded over the last 20 days. “The reduced pressure on our healthcare is most evident from the fact that 89 per cent of our ventilators reserved for Covid-19 have been vacant,” the official said. “Due to efficient disease management and a synergised national effort, the number of cases has been declining consistently. Remarkably, Pakistan is highest percentage of recoveries in the region, at 93.8 per cent.”

Even more miraculously, Pakistan is the only country that managed to reverse a projected economic downturn, officials said. “The International Monetary Fund had projected in April this year that Pakistan would record GDP growth of -1.5. Two months later, the revised projection was much better at -0.4,” an official said. “This is all thanks to rational and timely policy decisions.”

That said, officials warned that any gains could prove temporary if the public and administration lower their guard anytime soon and neglect SOPs. “This is especially true in light of upcoming high risk events like Ashura and the opening of educational institutions,” an official said. “We are entering a high-vigilance period and resurgence of the disease cannot be ruled out in the winter.”

According to officials, a final decision on reopening educational institutes will be taken after a review on September 7. “It is possible that we may opt for a staggered opening, with either higher education institutes or schools opening first,” an official said.

Meanwhile, comprehensive SOPs for Muharram are in the process of implementation with the cooperation of religious clerics at province, district and tehsil levels, they added.

“Living with Covid-19 is a real possibility. It is as yet unclear when a vaccine will be available and immunisation is still likely to be challenge when it is,” warned an official. “There is no room for complacency. While we have tackled the disease effectively, the pandemic if far from over. Any celebrations will have to wait,” he said.

Story: Zeeshan Ahmad
Illustrations: Ibrahim Yahya
Photos: AFP, Reuters


Youm-e-Istehsal: A year of lockdown in Kashmir

India rides out a year of disquiet in the occupied valley

12 months ago, on August 5, the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir region was stripped off special autonomy when the Narendra Modi government split it into two federally controlled territories – a move widely condemned by Kashmiris and Pakistan alike.

Since then, the picturesque valley has been flooded by the occupying troops with thousands under arrest with the Indian government imposing harsh restrictions on movement and  levying a communications blackout.

A year later, the Kashmiris remain under a lockdown with internet restrictions while Modi continues to disregard appeals by human rights organisations and international community to end the curbs.

Read The Express Tribune's special coverage on the one-year anniversary of the abrogation of autonomy.

India bit off more than it can chew

Facing lockdown and a near-total communication blackout, the people of IIOJK have been subjected to unparalleled humiliation and human rights violations.

A giant open-air prison

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 1,250 Kashmiris have been blinded by metal pellets used by Indian security forces from mid 2016 to the end of 2018.

India uses sexual violence as a weapon

The Modi’s Hindutva supremacist government continues to use rape and molestation as a ‘weapon of war’ and ‘collective punishment’ in the occupied territory to suppress the legitimate right to freedom of the innocent Kashmiri people.

Families disconnected in IIOJK amid blackout

The world has had very little contact with the occupied state, as troops continue to patrol the area—the cadence of thumping boots the most deafening amid state-wide blackout. However, it is the millions of disenfranchised civilians who have been caught in the crosshairs of this political turmoil and cut off from their families on the other side of the occupancy.


Violence continues unabated in IIOJK

India’s illegal action in the occupied part of Jammu and Kashmir that it claimed would bring peace and development to the disputed region has in fact “only brought more violence and uncertainty,” according to an article published in a prestigious American magazine.

‘India has to pay for its crimes in IIOJK’

What IIOJK witnessed on August 5, 2019, was the continuation of the Indian suppression that started in 1947. On that day, Delhi snatched Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination and occupied the whole region by force.

Modi receives flak for occupying Kashmir

An increasing number of independent observers have taken their criticism of the Bharatiya Janata party’s (BJP) decision to proceed with the illegally annexation of the territory to the Social Media.



When a city of 22 million has only 19 fire stations

 I am glad you’ve come here,” Saddar fire station in-charge Wajahat Khan says as he welcomes me into his office in Karachi. “It’s not easy being accused of not doing our jobs properly.”

Whenever there is a fire incident in the city, which is quite often, the media, victims, eye witnesses and at times even officials are quick to point fingers at the fire department over negligence. 

“There is no denying that the fire department has some very obvious limitations, but it’s never a one-sided issue,” Wajahat says.

With this feature, we aim to encapsulate a visual journey through the Karachi fire department – from several fire stations, to actual fire incidents – with the intent of investigating and documenting the other side of the story.


A framed portrait of fallen firefighter Naseer Ahmed hangs on the front wall of the Saddar fire station. He lost his life a decade ago when a roof collapsed on him as he was putting out a fire in Karachi’s SITE area.

Karachi has 22 fire stations of which only 19 are functional. The Saddar fire station is one of the two stations established before Partition. The newest station was built in Gulshan-e-Maymar five years ago.

According to Wajahat, there should ideally be one fire station for every 100,000 people. However, Karachi has only 19 functional fire stations for its more than 22 million residents, 11 times the workload.


The Saddar fire station control room in-charge recalls how people would often call the fire brigade helpline as a prank. “To counter that, we had to call back the number to confirm the emergency. This added to the response time, but we didn’t have a choice.”

Lead firefighter Mohammad Shareef says there was a time when people would call ‘16’ and their call was routed to their local fire station. This changed about 10 years ago and now ‘16’ connects the caller to the main call-centre located in Civic Centre, which then forwards the call to the local fire station. This process naturally takes longer and is not as efficient as calling the local landline number of the nearest fire station.

Even ‘16’ is the target of prank calls, the Saddar control room in-charge tells us, especially late at night.


“We drop everything when we hear the fire alarm. Often, we have to break our namaz to respond to an emergency. Nothing is more important when human lives are at stake,” says a firefighter who chose to remain anonymous.


Left: Firefighters during a conversation in their residential colony in Central fire station, Saddar. Right: Firefighters’ residential area and attached mosque in the Saddar fire station.


Khan points out that building control authorities and local fire stations abroad are always on the same page; one cannot start construction without a No Objection Certificate (NOC) by the local fire department. In Pakistan, however, such a concept does not exist because getting an approval from the fire station means increasing the cost of the project by 20%, he says.

“Not once in my lifetime has a plan been forwarded to me for approval by Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA). They okay plans without our approval. Nothing is ever approved by us. God knows what they do.”

Earlier this year, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) chief fire officer Tehseen Siddiqui told The Express Tribune that in his two-decade-long career, not once has he seen a building plan being approved by his department.



Firefighter Mohammad Shareef says Sindh provincial laws state that every industrial site should have a plan of their building on their entrance, which specifies where all the emergency exits, fire extinguishers, hydrants, and first aid kits are located. However, there is hardly any building following this law, he adds.

“When we reach fire sites we don’t know where to go, we have to rely on our instincts, and ask the people around.”

A semi-functional snorkel parked at the SITE fire station

Further, aspirant firefighters have to complete a five-week course from the Civil Defense Academy but those in charge of training recruits have little or no practical knowledge of fire safety, and their theories are outdated as they aren’t working in the field, claims Shareef. In fact, some people pay bribes to acquire a certificate without undergoing training. 

Karachi’s fire department currently owns four snorkels – fire trucks that have ladders and hydraulic platforms that can be used to reach the fire or victims trapped inside high-rise buildings. Only one of the snorkels is in full working condition and is situated at the Central fire station. One working snorkel while the number of high-rise building continues to increase in Karachi. The SITE fire station specially needs more snorkels as it caters to an industrial area.

Fireman Arshad Kabeer rests in the bachelors’ quarter in the Saddar fire station

“I know you are going to think I am sleeping and lazing around, which causes us to be late to fire incidents but that is not the case,” firefighter Arshad Kabeer explains. “I am completely prepared for a fire emergency. From the moment the fire alarm rings, it takes less than three minutes to get the truck out of the station. We are advised to rest and conserve energy, because we don’t know how long or how physically demanding the next rescue mission will be.”


Firefighter Ahmad Ali goes as far as saying that firefighters are “victims of mistreatment and disrespect”. He adds that often people abuse and even physically assault firefighters when they reach fire sites. “Since victims are in panic, they expect us to reach just minutes after their call. It does not work that way; there are various factors involved.”

I am no different than a soldier guarding his country’s border at night”

“I am no different than a soldier guarding his country’s border at night,” another firefighter, who chose to stay anonymous, says. “We too prepare ourselves for every possible situation, even if that means sacrificing our lives to save a citizen. But it’s sad how we are not seen that way.”


“Our equipment has not been updated in more than four years,” station officer Wahajat Ahmed says. “Everything is outdated here. And whatever equipment we have is in poor condition.” He goes on to say that expecting the latest, automated equipment is unrealistic. But adds that if they only replace the damaged equipment and provide basic gear, such as hose pipes, it could make a big difference.

“The supplies we receive are limited in number and have to be shared among firefighters,” Ahmed says. “Some men are not comfortable sharing safety gear with others due to hygiene concerns.” He adds that firemen would be more responsible with their gear if each had his own items, instead of having to share. “A fireman with a complete set of tools is a must. Often firemen have to purchase their gear such as helmets and torches with their own money.”


Station officer Mazhar of the Central fire station tell The Express Tribunethat according to the rules established during the British era, the time between receiving a call and the team leaving the fire station should be 30 seconds during the day and one minute during the night.

“We try our best to maintain the time-frame, but it’s very difficult, especially because our vehicles are way past their lifespan and in poor condition,” he says.

“Every time there is a minister or a VIP moving around the city, the roads are blocked for us to make way for them. Often, we get stuck in traffic, and then we have to deal with abuse and blame for being late to the fire incident,” a fire department driver, who also chose to remain anonymous, said.


Khan explains that it’s very easy to blame the firefighter for arriving late at the scene. “The most we can do is leave our premises as soon as possible; we cannot do anything about the traffic, especially when this department is treated like any other civilian by both the traffic police and the public.”

Station officer Mazhar of the Central fire station says that is a basic traffic rule that whenever a traffic police officer sees an emergency vehicle approaching, he should regulate traffic towards the left and clear the way on the right lane. Unfortunately, this never happens.

“Due to the general lack of awareness, whenever we have the emergency siren on, many people think that we are just misusing the siren. Many jam their vehicles next to ours and try to get ahead of us.”


“We were only given two month’s overtime after the protests, just as someone would give a lollipop to a child so that he stops crying for the time being.”


“The fire and rescue department of a city should be given the top priority,” a firefighter says. “We are, after all, risking our lives to save others, but sadly ours is the worst treated department. Being stress-free is the most important requirement of this job. I shouldn’t have to think about how I’m going to pay my children’s school fees when I’m at a fire scene.”

I shouldn’t have to think about how I’m going to pay my children’s school fees when I’m at a fire scene”


“In spite of all the limitations we have, bureaucratic or logistical, I can say one thing for sure: when we hear the fire alarm, we put everything aside. On an interpersonal level, we are fully committed and prepared to sacrifice our lives to save others,” says another firefighter, choosing to remain anonymous. “It’s a lie if someone else tells you otherwise.”

Zoral Naik is a Pakistan based photojournalist and documentary photographer. You can find more of his work here.

 Reports from the Bhuttos’ traditional seat of power suggest the HIV infection rate in the district rivals worst-hit African countries

KARACHI: Pitiable living conditions, a sanitation crisis caused in part by mounds of garbage lining decaying roads, deteriorating healthcare and malnutrition, rising gastrointestinal issues, and now, a shocking HIV/Aids crisis.

This is not a city in Sub-Saharan Africa. This unfortunate situation is in the home constituency of the ruling family of Sindh – Larkana.

This is where Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has been elected from. It is where his mother and grandfather, former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto were elected from. It is the PPP’s seat of power.

But besides the concentration of all this historical power and influence over national and provincial governments, the area has only seen decades of social and economic problems. The sudden reporting of HIV/Aids among at least 73 children in Larkana has rung even more alarm bells.

The city is now wholly in the grip of a healthcare crisis. But this is not the first time or even the first aids crisis. In the last 18 years, it has experienced ‘unusual’ outbreaks of HIV/Aids at least three times. First, in 2003, the virus was detected at a prison among more than 100 injecting drug users. Then, three years back, 30 patients receiving dialysis at Chandka Medical Hospital, Larkana. Now, we have an outbreak among children.

The surveillance data of diagnostic and treatment centres in Sindh also shows the dark side of the epidemic in Larkana. The percentage of HIV positive cases among women in Larkana is around 17 per cent, against 10 per cent in other areas.

The ethnic diversity of Sindh is different from other provinces. It suffers the most, where the epidemic was noticed earlier, and now sub epidemics are seen in all key populations in most of the major cities investigated. One of the causes of the increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases in Larkana is its geographical and economic importance. It is also a hub of illicit drugs, as a bordering city with Balochistan.

It has established female and male brothels, and a large number of quacks, leading to unsafe injecting practices in formal and informal healthcare settings. 

According to data from different rounds of Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance conducted by CIDS-HASP, Sindh is already in the concentrated phase of an epidemic among injecting drugs users (IDU) and male (MSW) and transgender sex workers (TSW).

According to IBBS data, Sindh has the largest number of IDUs in the country, and Karachi is one of the cities at the forefront of the epidemic. Almost half of the IDUs in the city – 48.7 per cent – have HIV/Aids, and 12.9 per cent of TSWs have the disease. In Larkana city, had the highest rate of HIV/Aids among TSWs, at 18.2 per cent.

During the last three decades, the HIV pandemic has taken a terrible toll on human health and life. While Sub-Saharan Africa remains the worst affected region in the world, there has long been concern about the emergence of the disease in Asia, where, though the epidemic appears less severe than in other parts of the world, reporting has been problematic.

Pakistan is the second largest country in South Asia, and though it is still behind India and Nepal in terms of HIV prevalence, underreporting may well be a factor.   

Unfortunately, no significant interventions for the most ‘at risk’ populations have been pursued on the ground in the last six years, and the Sindh AIDS Programme has failed to implement its strategic plan, for which funds were available and higher level commitments were present in the form of the HIV and AIDS Prevention, Protection, and Control Act, 2013, and the Fast Track City Strategic Plan.

At one stage Sindh was the leading province in Pakistan and drew back of world bank financing but now situation and ignorance to issue is leading to the same state of generalised epidemic facing some African countries in past.

It’s the right time to activate HIV/AIDS Act 2013 on war footing basis to rise above the issue to confront the menace of an increasing number of HIV/AIDS carriers.

Number of HIV-infected people all over Pakistan exceeds 165,000, raising questions over NACP performance

LAHORE: The number of HIV-infected people in Pakistan has crossed 165,000, posing serious doubts over the performance and efficiency of the National Aids Control Programme (NACP). The program appears to have failed to stop the spread of the disease.

As per data released by NACP, however, the number of patients who have been registered with HIV is only 23,000. A surprising thing to note in this regard is that NACP has been quoting the same figure for HIV patients for the past five years. However, the rise in the number of HIV cases, despite billions of rupees granted to NACP, is extremely concerning.

In its written reply submitted to National Assembly, the health ministry has maintained that immediate measures are being taken for patients inflicted with HIV, including the provision of medicines and steps to stop the disease from being communicated from parents to their young children. The ministry has established 35 centres throughout the country for treatment of aids. However, as per the officials of the health ministry, negligence during blood transfusion and use of syringes affected by the virus in the hands of drug addicts are also contributing factors for the spread of the disease.

According to statistics released by United Nations Global HIV Aids Control Program, a total of 36.9 million people in the world are affected by the deadly virus, of which 25 per cent remain undiagnosed. According to the UN report, the highest number of these people belong to East and South African states, with 19.6 million cases.

In west and central Africa, the number of HIV cases is 6.1 million, while 5.2 million people in the Asia Pacific, 2.2 million people in western and central Europe and North America, 1.8 million people in Latin America, 1.4 million people in east and central Asia, 0.31 million people in Caribbean states and 0.22 million people in the Middle East and North Africa have also contracted aids. According to the global index for aids, Pakistan stands at 35th position with the most number of patients affected by the disease.

According to statistics released by the National Aids Control Program, the number of HIV cases during the past year has increased by 35,000. In 2018, the number of patients affected with aids was 130,000, which in the current year has surpassed 165,000, while an estimated 20,000 cases are being added every year, from which sixty per cent are from Punjab. According to the NACP report, Punjab has 75,000 cases of aids, followed by 60,000 in Sindh, 16,322 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 5,275 in Balochistan and 6,675 in Islamabad. In addition, about 2,500 HIV patients belong to Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Only 23,757 people inflicted with aids have been admitted or are undergoing medical treatment in different AIDS Control Centers of the country. The registered patients reflect only 7 per cent of the total HIV cases in the country, from which 15, 115 cases represent drug addicts who have contracted the disease through the use of infected syringes. These patients are being administered ARV therapy for medical treatment.

The rate of diagnostic testing for Aids is also ten per cent less, as compared to diagnostic tests for other diseases, raising alarm bells for policymakers and public health professionals in general. According to the report, the number of registered HIV aids patients in the federal capital is 2,500, while 11,000 people in Punjab, 8,000 people in Sindh, 2,370 people in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and 1,334 people in  Balochistan are registered for the disease.

According to the report, a total of 18,220 men, 4,170 women, 564 boys and 426 girls and 379 transgendered individuals are registered for the disease. According to the National Aids program, the virus has been confirmed in more than 1000 jailed prisoners all over the country. The Aids virus was found in 480 prisoners of Punjab prisons, 296 prisoners in jails of Sindh, 181 prisoners of Balochistan prisons and 56 prisoners of KP.

According to the report, more than 6,000 patients have been afflicted with this disease and died as a result of it all over the country. The federal capital Islamabad, Punjab's Lahore, Faisalabad, Sheikhpura, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Rahim Yar Khan, Multan Chinniot, DG Khan, and Sindh's Karachi, Larkana, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar, Qambar ShahdadPur, Benazirabad are the places most affected by Aids.

In Balochistan, the areas of Quetta, Zhob, Loralai, Pishin, Qila Saifullah, Noskhi, Qila Abdullah, Lasbela, while the areas of Peshawar, Kohat, BANNU, Charsadda, Swat, Lakki Marwat, Abbottabad, Malakand division, Mansehra, Mardan, Hangu and Chitral in the K-P are among the affected cities.

According to the report, the National Aids Control program has opened 25 Aids Treatment Centers all over the country, which tries to prevent the transfer of Aids virus from the mother to the baby during pregnancy. 33 HIV treatment centres have been formed, while 11 new treatment centres will be formed, suggest reports.

In Punjab, Primary and Secondary Health Department Additional Secretary and Punjab Aids Control Programme Project Director Dr Asim Altaf told The Express Tribune that the programme has registered around 12,000 HIV patients in the province, of which around 7,500 are getting free medical treatment. He highlighted that the program has taken various initiatives to prevent and halt or contain new HIV infections and improve the health and quality of life of people living with HIV in Punjab.

Dr Altaf highlighted that Punjab is the first province in Pakistan that has established a BSL-3 Advanced Diagnostics Laboratory which provides a complete package of services and is equipped with latest flow cytometry machine, gene expert, CD4 count machine, and has the capacity to perform viral genotyping and HIV resistance testing for initiating or switching ART.

The program, in partnership with the Walled City Authority of Lahore (WCLA) and Akhuwat Foundation, has initiated a project in the city’s red light area for children of unknown parentage and families of people with high-risk behaviour. In addition, the program has started Pakistan's first-ever clinic for transgender persons at Fountain House, and set up HIV screening centres in 38 jails in Punjab.

The program has also partnered with the Lahore University Management Science (LUMS) for research in bioinformatics and analysis of epidemiological data. The program offers scholarships to MPhil and PhD students doing research on HIV and has provided training to healthcare providers on HIV treatment, counselling and stigma reduction in 15 districts at DHQ, THQ and teaching hospitals across Punjab.

He further highlighted that the program is providing services to 22,709 injecting drugs users, who have the highest prevalence of HIV/Aids (between 20-35%). The program registered all those injecting drug users in prisons during mass jail screening activity, and the National Aids Control Program runs a national program for their rehab implemented by Nai Zindagi.

Similarly, the program provides services to 13,461 transgender people. The program works in collaboration with Akhuwat Khawaja Rehab Program and Khawaja Sara Society of Pakistan.

Dr Altaf said the program is also providing services to bridging population connected with these vulnerable segments. The program has tested 25,786 bus and truck drivers at 20 sites spanning 14 cities. It has screened over 89,009 jail inmates in 2017-18 covering all prisons, and this is an ongoing activity which is still underway in different districts. The program has also screened 174,000 TB patients for HIV, including those at sentinel sites. For the general population, the program has been organising health week and other awareness-raising programs. In 2018, during a mass screening campaign, the program tested 667,424 people for HIV.


Avoiding sexual indiscretion is paramount. If a syringe needs to be injected then make sure the syringe is new. Transfusion of blood should only be carried out if necessary, and after making sure that the blood is free of HIV. Aids does not spread by shaking hands, eating food and walking with an Aids patient. Hence, there is no need to run away from this disease.

If treatment is not carried out after the diagnosis of the HIV virus, then threats of other diseases like a bacterial infection, cancer, phlebitis and scrofulous increases. The HIV virus cannot currently be treated but can only be controlled, allowing the patient to lead a healthy life. There are 33 centres of HIV Aids which provide free test and medicines.

The Aids disease spreads due to a virus called HIV which is also called the virus that renders the immune system of the body useless. Usually, it is spread due to sexual indiscretion, or the use of an affected syringe, or any affected equipment that prickles the skin, nose, ear and those that are used in dental treatment. Equipment used for cutting hairs or shaving, or used during surgery may also spread this virus if they are affected. Aids is called the last stage of the HIV virus. If HIV is not treated, then the immune system is destroyed and it takes the shape of Aids.

The initial symptom of Aids can be a common cold which usually is not paid attention to. A patient of Aids may seem healthy for months or even for years. The patient gradually becomes a patient of Aids. Other major symptoms include loss of body weight by more than 10% within a short time or diarrhoea or fever that lasts more than one month.

Stigma attached to HIV/AIDS raises concerns that actual number of infected people may be significantly higher

PESHAWAR: Although different reports suggest different estimates for the number of HIV/Aids carriers in Pakistan, none rank the country among those worst affected by the virus. Officials, however, fear that the numbers are higher than reported and are likely to increase because the most vulnerable population groups rarely get themselves screened, and it is even rarer for them to get themselves registered with government agencies due to the stigma attached to the incurable disease.

After HIV/Aids was first detected in 1981, people began associating the disease with homosexuality, although this was never actually the case. People then believed drug use was a factor, and the disease began being labelled as self-inflicted harm.

It wasn’t until wider awareness was generated that people began to understand that many victims may have been infected through no fault of their own. Unscreened blood transfusions, unsterilised surgical equipment, and shared shaving equipment are all possible sources of infection.

What is true is that needles shared by injecting drug users remain a significant cause.

According to statistics available with the National Aids Control Program (NACP), prior to the ongoing crisis in Larkana, some 23,757 people living with HIV/Aids had been registered at different government centres, commonly known as Family Care Centre (FCC), with 5,115 of these being injecting drug users. But only 15,821 of the registered persons were regularly visiting government health centres and were on medication for the disease.

According to Dr Baseer Achakzai, national manager for National Aids Control Programme, if more people that appeared, got screened, and were registered with the programme, it would be successful, but if people refused to get screened and registered, the number of cases would invariably increase.

“If someone does not report or get registered, the virus would be transmitted to their husband or wife, and then ultimately to their kids,” Achakzai told The Express Tribune.

NACP data shows the number of HIV/Aids patients is estimated at around 165,000, based on data collected from 23 locations – 13 in Punjab, 6 in Sindh, and 2 each in Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

Among the different population groups, the most alarming situation, according to programme officials, was among transgender (TG) persons, adding that transgender persons were always reluctant to get screened or registered with the FCCs.

Officials also said that transgender persons had been grouped into transgender sex workers (TSW) and non-sex worker transgender (non-TSW) for recordkeeping.

Infected TSWs were slightly younger and their ages varied from 22 to 27 years old, as compared to Non-TSW persons, who were mostly between 25 to 29 years old, according to the Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance (IBBS), a study carried out 2016-17. Approximately six per cent of all transgender persons were aged between 13 and 19 years of age, while the highest proportion (33.7%) of all transgender persons was between the ages of 25 and 29 years, the survey said.

The study reveals that TSWs began doing sex work when they roughly 16 years old and remained involved in the profession for approximately 10 years, adding that 87.2 per cent of TG persons were unmarried – 87.3 per cent of TG-SWs and 85.7 per cent  of the Non-SWs – while  44.5% were illiterate – 43.4 per cent TG-SW and 53.1 per cent Non-SWs. Around 69 per cent lived in deras – houses specified for transgender persons – 69 per cent of TG-SW and 63 per cent Non-SWs.

The study reads that one out of every five transgender persons interviewed did not hail from the city they were living in, and overall average monthly income was reported to be Rs20,000 per month from all sources, on average, which include Rs10,000 per month from sex work.

Female sex workers

The survey covers in detail the prevalence of HIV among female sex workers (FSW) and has found it to be the lowest among all key populations. A total of 118 FSWs tested positive for HIV, with Sukkur reporting the highest prevalence of HIV among FSWs with 8.8 per cent, followed by Larkana and Mirpurkhas with 4.1 per cent each, Nawabshah 3.8 per cent and Peshawar 3.0 per cent. No HIV positive cases were reported among FSWs from Turbat, Quetta, Sialkot, Bahawalpur, and Kasur.

The average age of the FSWs interviewed was 27, while 6.6 per cent of interview subjects were under 20. The average age for initiation in sex work reported by the FSWs was 22, and the average length of involvement in the profession was almost six years.

Brothel-based FSWs, however, began work as young as age-20 and reported being involved in sex work for seven years. Almost half of the FSWs – 46.9 per cent – were married, while some 3.4 per cent were widowed. Separated or divorced accounted for 12.9 per cent of women interviewees.

Of the FSWs with children, 82.9 per cent are or were once married. Among unmarried FSWs, some 40.4 per cent worked in brothels, while 38 per cent only worked out of their own homes. 79 per cent, the largest number of FSWs interviewed, were living in their own homes. 38 per cent of FSWs reported that they consistently used condoms with clients in the last month, and 10.9 per cent reported using protection with non-paying partners as well. Overall, 15.6 per cent of FSWs reported using a condom in their last paid anal sexual act.

Male sex workers

Unlike previous surveillance reports where only male sex workers (MSW) were included and interviewed, IBBS 2016-17 included samples of all men involved in same-sex activities (MSM), including MSWs. While carrying out the surveillance in all cities mapped, IBBS 2016-17 was able to identify 46,264 MSMs at 8,606 geographical spots, including a small proportion of MSWs as well.

Of the total 6,773 MSM tested for HIV, 250 tested positive for an overall weighted prevalence of 5.4 per cent, with 9.7 per cent, the highest prevalence for HIV overall among MSM, reported for Kasur, followed by 9.2 per cent from Karachi, and 7.5 per cent from Nawabshah. Among the 22 cities where IBBS was conducted, no MSM tested HIV positive in Sargodha or Sialkot.

Around 75% of all MSMs interviewed said they were unmarried, and some 22.7 per cent reported that they were married. MSWs started sex work at an average age of just 16 and had been involved in sex work for an average of seven years. The highest proportion of married MSWs, 38.5 per cent was reported from Hyderabad, followed by 38 per cent from Bannu, and 37 per cent from Faisalabad.

Approximately 41 per cent of the MSWs solicited clients by walking the streets and around public places like bus stops and markets, while 38 per cent reported using cell phones to meet clients.

Usage of injected drugs is among the leading causes of HIV infection in the country

PESHAWAR: Bilal sits and waits for his medicine at the office of a healthcare charity in Gulbahar, Peshawar.

“I was an injecting drug user (IDU),” admitted the 30-year-old, explaining when staff from a healthcare charity checked him and told him that he was HIV positive, “my whole world changed.”

Bilal started using drugs when he was just 16. He said that after he was diagnosed, he was sent to Islamabad for two months of regular treatment, after which he returned home.

Although he still needs to come in for regular doses of medication to control the disease, he said he is mostly fine and has quit drugs, which has also allowed him to maintain a daily wage job to help care for his family, which includes two daughters and a son.

Bilal is one of the thousands of IDUs with HIV/Aids in Pakistan. Interestingly, over 99% of IDUs are male, according to estimates from the National Aids Control Programme.

Muhammad Shuaib Khan, a site manager with Nai Zindagi Trust – which helped Bilal – said that since April 2017, their work in Peshawar district had brought them across 807 infected IDUs including five women who had been registered with the trust.

The IBBSP survey report said that the average age of IDUs was 32, with a median age of 30. Approximately 44% of IDUs are under 30, while 50% were unmarried, 37.7% admitted they were married when surveyed. 

Nearly 40% of the PWIDs interviewed were illiterate, and 30.4% admitted to being homeless, living in open spaces such as streets or shrines. Median monthly among IDUs was roughly Rs10,000 Approximately 40 per cent of IDUs with HIV reported having sexual intercourse within the past six months, and use of protection was rare, with only 15.8 per cent reporting using a condom in their most recent encounter.

Interestingly, the report further added that nearly 28.3% of IDUs had relations with a female sex worker in the past six months, with an average of almost six partners. Only 7.7 per cent of them used condoms with FSWs. Another 23.6% of IDUs had relations with male or transgender sex workers in the past six months. Condom use in these cases was even lower, at 5.8%.

The report estimated a total of 37,137 IDUs spread at 7,401 spots in 14 cities of Pakistan. Of the total estimated number of IDUs mapped, almost two-thirds were reported from Karachi, which has 24,036 IDUs.

Bahawalpur reported the second-highest estimate, with 2,755 or 7.4% of the total estimated number of IDUs. The third highest estimate was reported from Hyderabad, with 2,164. Only 47 IDUs were reported in the mapping exercise, with 44 reported from 19 spots.

           Story                                                                                       Creative

Tufail Ahmed

Waqas Ahmed

Imran Adnan

Umer Farooq

Wisal Yousafzai

Mohsin Alam

Exports could get sweet boost from ever-growing Chinese demand for exotic fruit

KARACHI. A cherry blossom tree in full bloom is a mesmerising sight to behold. Cherry blossom is symbolic of spring – a time of renewal, rebirth and rejuvenation. And it has just done that for Chile's economy. Cherry blossoms didn't bloom in Chile until a decade ago. Or at least the world didn't know. This long skinny country, sited on the western coast of South America, wasn't a major cherry cultivator until the dawn of the 21st century. Its total cherry exports were less than 5,000 tonnes, according to the UN data. Then China discovered it. And Chile's cultivation and exports of the exotic fruit went up exponentially in 2013, making it one of the top 5 cherry exporting countries in the world with an export volume of more than 118,000 tonnes in 2016. The figures have gone further up in the next two years.

Chile's Department of Agricultural Policy Research says that in 2018 cherry exports exceeded 180,000 tonnes, showing a staggering growth of up to 126%. Of these, 85% were sold to China. And from the spring of 2018 to 2019, Beijing imported about 200,000 tonnes of cherries from Chile – or 83.75% of Chile's total cherry exports.

In Chinese culture and herbal traditions, the cherry flower signifies love, passion, and female mystique. The rapid emergence and explosive growth of China's middle class has created an increased demand for exotic fruits, cherry and avocado in particular. According to international projections, China, a country of a billion and half people, would look like a more middle-class society by 2030, which means the demand for these fruits, besides other things, will go up further. China is already looking for more options to satiate its growing appetite for cherry. Recently, it found Argentina as another potential destination to import from.


Could Pakistan also grab a slice, if not the whole pie? Perhaps, yes.

Cherry is cultivated in Pakistan, but little is known about this exotic fruit in our country for lack of verifiable data.

Khair Muhammad Kakar

Cherry blossom is a real thing

"Cherry blossom is a real thing to observe in Gilgit-Baltistan during March and April as the whole valley is full of bloom in scattered plantations," says Dr Waqar Ahmad, Director Agriculture Technology at Pakistan Agriculture Technology Transfer Activity. "Small farmers have scattered plantations around their houses, but it is not in the formal sector of cultivation."

Ahmad, a trader from G-B, adds that cherry is sparsely harvested in a large swathe of the mountainous region stretching from Diamer to Sust border with China – particularly in the picturesque valleys of Hunza and Nagar. But he agrees with Dr Waqar that cherry is not a formal crop. "Farmers cultivate cherry plants in small numbers in their fruit orchards or around their houses."

100 per cent organic

But it's not G-B alone. Cherry is also grown in parts of Balochistan. "Good quality cherry is cultivated in Kalat, Ziarat and Khanozai areas," says agriculture expert Dr Khair Muhammad Kakar. "The best thing about Pakistani cherry is that it is 100 per cent organic – no fertilisers or pesticides are involved."


Waqar Ahmed at a US Aid event

Undocumented figures

According to the UN data, Pakistan produces a little over 2,000 tonnes of cherry per year, while its share in exports is zero. Dr Kakar doesn't agree. He claims that annual cherry produce is much higher, but we don't have the exact figures due to lack of documented data. Trader Ahmad concurs. "During the season, we sell nearly 20 tonnes of cherry every day," he claims. "Cities of Punjab are the main markets."

Dr Waqar, however, prefers to trust UN figures. Pakistan ranks 46th in the world with a production share of only 0.1 %, harvesting 2,206 tonnes of cherry in 2017, he says. "The overall world cherry production is 4.9 million tonnes and our neighboring country Iran is producing 398,140 tonnes annually." He also factors in low per acre yield, which is four tonnes, while in advanced countries it is 12 tonnes per acre due to high density plantation.

Javed Iqbal, an entomologist at the Plant Protection Department, agrees. Currently Pakistan's cherry production is too little to export, he says. "I believe there is no surplus, so export could be given a thought only if we increase the production."

Dr Kakar, however, believes that Pakistan can grow much more than it is currently growing. Reason being the low cost of cultivation compared to the traditional apricot and apple fruits. "Cost of cherry cultivation is almost zero. The only cost is fruit picking and packaging." He claims that farmers in Ziarat and Kalat, who have traditionally been cultivating apple and apricot, are now switching to cherry. Trader Ahmad says the situation is not different in G-B where more and more farmers are switching to cherry.

"The greatest advantage of cherry is that it needs a very short period of time to grow," says Akhtar Muneer, a horticulturist from Balochistan. "Many farmers are now avoiding fruits like apple as it requires a lot of water and is attracting some diseases too, so they can grow crops like cherry," he says, adding that the potential to increase the production is huge.

Dr Kakar says the cherry season in Balochistan lasts for 40 to 60 days, between May and June. While in G-B, the season starts in the last week of April and continues until the first week of July, according to trader Ahmad. Dr Kakar says if Pakistan starts exporting cherry to China, then the Chinese would have fresh cherries from G-B and Balochistan for almost four months.

Road rigged with potholes

Cherry is a delicate fruit. It has a very little shelf life. This means farmers have to sell their produce as quickly as possible to avoid financial losses. "Cherry has a disadvantage of easily rotting, unlike apples and grapes that can stay fresh for as long as a week. This is the main reason why cherry is not a preferable option for our farmers," says Akhtar, the horticulturist. Entomologist Javed says cherry's life after harvest is hardly three to four days. "When harvested in G-B, cherry is sold in the Islamabad market. Transportation takes a day, which means it has to be consumed over the next two to three days or else it'll start rotting."

Javed Iqbal

In Pakistan, almost 20 to 30 per cent cherry is lost post-harvest due to the dilapidated road infrastructure, according to Dr Waqar. An overwhelming majority of cherry growers – roughly 71% – are small farmers and they sell their produce to wholesalers and retailers as they cannot afford to transport their produce in the markets where they can get a better price.

Lack of cool chain management, market information system, packaging and processing facilities and value addition also contribute to the hurdles in cherry export. The transporting vehicles do not have cool chain refrigerators that could be used to transport tinned cherry, which is why the focus of farmers is only local markets, where they do not get the desired price. But Dr Kakar says storage is not an issue as far as Balochistan is concerned.

"A chain of 10 state-of-the-art cold storages has been set up as part of a US-funded project – right from Chaman up to Turbat," he claims. For him, packaging is the first step. "Growers should be provided clamshell packaging which ensures safety, visibility, versatility – and above all zero fraudulency." Besides packaging, value-addition is another important factor. Cherry is a delicate and easily perishable fruit, but the processed, pre-cooled, packed cherries have shelf life of over a couple of weeks with fresh and crispy taste and aroma.

The quality of the edible flesh of cherry fruits differs from region to region, but buyers prefer value-addition. "The buyer buys with eyes, which is why packaging and presentation of the fruit makes a difference in the export market and salability of the produce," says Dr Waqar.

Biting slice off the pie

Gilgit-Baltistan, which lies at the heart of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), could become a business hub between the two countries.

"CPEC can be used as a gateway between both the countries," says Dr Waqar. "People of G-B can export their finest quality almonds, apricots and dry fruits to China, while farmers in Balochistan, where the Gwadar port is located, could also export their fruits, including cherry, and vegetables in bulk."

Dr Waqar says cherry could easily be exported to China via CPEC. "If we sort out the issue of transportation, in technical terms the pre-cooling system; small processing units in the cottage industry; and the mechanism for consolidation, then there is a lot of potential of cherry for export in Pakistan."

All the experts agree that Pakistan's cherry could be marketed as 100% organic to increase its competitiveness in the Chinese market. "The fruit could be claimed as organic produce from the foothills of the Himalayas due to clean environment, and no use of agrochemicals and fertilisers," says Dr Waqar.

However, there could be some roadblocks, primarily the issue of quarantine. "Any humans, animals or plants have to go through some procedure as they move, which is called quarantine, so the cherry is also kept in quarantine for some time to analyse if it carries any disease or pest to see if it becomes a threat for the economy or health of the importing economy," says entomologist Javed.

Amanullah Khan, Managing Director of Global Care, Beijing, thinks this shouldn't be an issue. "We are already exporting agricultural products – fruits and vegetables – to the United States, the United Kingdom, and other European countries which have more stringent quarantine requirements.

Amanullah Khan

"Pakistani mangoes are popular all over the world, especially in European countries such as the United Kingdom, and the United States. The problem of the presence of fruit flies has been solved. If we can get support from China and secure some orders, then we will definitely meet this requirement, this is not a big problem," he adds.

Putting together 'to-do' list

The experts agree that cherry production has to be given a substantial boost if Pakistan plans to export to China.

There are things that growers need to take care of, like pollination. "We have to maintain certain trees as well to keep in check pollination, so when the pollination is done right, the flowering and fruiting is good quality too. Thus, there are certain things that growers need to take care of as it affects the production."

Farmers can grow more cherries under high density plantation with drip irrigation to get more produce per acre, which will increase the capacity to maintain the supply of the fruit in the local and export market, according to experts. Climatic conditions and natural resources are in favour of more production in high hills.

Trader Ahmad complains about lack of support from the agriculture department. "If the government could set up nurseries to offer saplings to growers and make market information and clamshell packaging available to them, then cherry could be brought into formal cultivation which, in turn, would result in a substantial boost in production."


Dr Waqar agrees and goes a step further. "Support from the government and the development sector to farmers in cultural practices, certified plants, access to finance, access to market and logistical management will enhance the prospects of cherry production in the region."

Horticulturist Muneer recommends a two-tier market for an efficient marketing system. "In the first tier, fresh cherry should be collected, packed and supplied according to the market demand, and the surplus cherry should then be processed and canned in the second tier."

Dr Kakar says the government should provide clamshell packaging to farmers; help exporters with the certification process and other paperwork; and remove bureaucratic hurdles and rampant corruption at ports, if it wants to encourage cherry exports.

If this is too much to ask for Pakistani authorities, then China could be requested to help. And Zhao Jinping, former director-general of the Research Department of Foreign Economic Relations, Development Research Centre of the State Council, thinks this is possible. "China should set up a joint venture cherry farm in Pakistan and the two countries can produce together to help Pakistan develop the cherry industry," he says.

If Pakistan could get a share in China's cherry imports, then this could be a win-win for both countries. China could have fresh, organic cherry at a cheaper price, while Pakistan could improve its trade imbalance with China, though in a modest way.

Story: Naveed Hussain and Sumaiya Kamani
Creative: Ibrahim Yahya

Afraid of societal stigma, victims and their families often hush up cases of revenge porn, online harrassment

Karachi: With a chador wrapped around her head and face, a scared and jittery young woman sat in the waiting area of the Federal Investigation Agency’s Cybercrime Circle in Karachi. Next to her was an elderly woman, like a deer caught in the headlights, waiting to speak to an investigation officer.

Every now and then, the older woman whispered something to the girl, and went redder in the face in the process. Tears welled up in the young woman’s eyes. Try as she would, the tissues were not enough to soak up her tears as they streamed down behind the chador.

As she fidgeted with the tissue, an official announced: “The officer is calling Miss F”

The two women got up with their handbags and headed into the investigation officer’s room. The older woman introduced herself as F's aunt and began narrating the ordeal her niece and whole family were facing.

A student at an all girls college, F met Z at an inter-collegiate sports event three years ago. It was like any other such liaison between teenagers, growing from clandestine calls into surreptitious meetings. There were a few video calls in between and exchange of photographs, but F insists it was all above-board.

As the relationship grew, she found out about Z other activities, which included petty crime and even a prison term. He also disappeared for long stretches, which for F was another red flag. Alarmed at these developments, she tried to put distance between the two.

That’s when things started to go wrong. Angry at being spurned, he started with threats against F and her family.  Initially, she brushed off his advances as idle threats, but when he repeatedly threatened to send compromising images of her to her family, she knew there was trouble.

She confided in her aunt, scared as she was of causing irreparable damage to her relationship with her father. At that time, her family was busy with the marriage of her elder sister, and appeased Z through whatever means necessary.

But that didn’t last long. Early last year, F woke up to find her intimate pictures displayed over multiple social media platforms. They were also sent to her family members. Soon, everyone in her extended circle had seen the pictures, with her pleas to Z to take them off falling on deaf ears.

Driven to despair, she tried to kill herself, not once but twice, saved by timely intervention of her family. They convinced her to take up the case with the relevant authorities but the shame associated with the offence continued to be a deterrent. She was still sticking to the hope that her intimate images would be lost in the multitudinous oblivion of cyberspace.

However, the situation kept spiraling out of control. Things came to a pass early this year when Z decided to accuse F of blasphemy.

The amplification in threats directed at her and her family meant that there was no way out but to cooperate fully with the authorities. F was back at the cybercrime office in Karachi, and this time she was determined to get all questionable content associated with her removed from social media.

'One of dozens'

FIA Cybercrime Circle Deputy Director Abdul Ghaffar says that F’s case is not just an isolated incident and his department receives dozens of such complaints on a daily basis. “The number of reported cases have risen recently and the majority are about harassment on WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook.

He said that last year FIA received more than 4,000 complaints regarding cybercrime, while more than 1,500 complainants have been received in the first three months of 2019. “Of these, almost 70% of the cases are related to online harassment of a sexual nature, pornography, revenge porn, unsolicited messages, and identity and data theft for purposes of blackmail and misrepresentation.

“In cases, the majority of the complainants, almost 80 per cent, tend to be women, who have had compromising or doctored images put up on social media. In the majority of cases, the person who put up the picture is known to the victim,” he informed.

Hush it up

When asked whether she sought criminal action against Z, F told The Express Tribune that she wants to move on and focus on her education and family instead of worrying about what she will find out next on social media.

She is still reluctant about taking the issue to court. “I know I made a mistake by trusting him. I just want to make sure that I don’t have to hear from or see him ever again in my life. He has ruined it enough already. I don’t care how the authorities to deal with him.”

Ghaffar said that F’s case is expected to follow the same trajectory as do the majority of cases. “Only 20% of cases are taken to court. Nearly 10% end up in the files due to poor follow up on part of the complainant or the investigators. In the remaining 70%, complainants just want to make sure that the content in question is taken offline.”

He went on to say that complainants and their families are unwilling to take the matter to court due to its sensitive nature. “People are concerned about further damage to their reputation. They don’t want their names or images to be part of the court record. They don’t want to be known. All they want to ensure is that they do not have to deal with the individual ever again, and understandably so.

Repeat offenders

While the victim is satisfied by the removal of the objectionable content and an unconditional apology, it limits the agency’s ability to try the perpetrator through the legal system is compromised. This means that they have to let the perpetrator go, despite knowing their proclivities.

Investigation officer Tariq Hussain, who is an IT expert, cited the case of a man who impersonated as an army officer and duped women with promises of marriage. The man hired a fake molvi to carry out the nikkah to sanctify the consummation of marriage. He also recorded the act of consummation, which he then used to blackmail.

“We arrested the man a few years ago, but had to let him go after the victim agreed not to press charges as the content was removed and the blackmailing ended. Last year, there was a complaint about another man impersonating as an army officer. When we tracked him down, it was the same man,” narrated Hussain.

He said that his investigation revealed that the perpetrator had carried out the same scam with at least four different women that they know of. “We don’t know how many other women he duped. But now, one of the victims has agreed to go ahead with the case and it is now in court,” said Hussain, while acknowledging that the cases could have been avoided if they had been able to take action earlier.

Paucity of resources

One of the challenges facing the cybercrime wing is a dearth of resources. The resources have not grown apace with the rising number of complaints that they have to handle since the setting up of the wing in 2007. The passage of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Ordinance (PECA) in 2016 resulted in greater focus on the wing’s activities but without the necessary addition to resources.

At present, Pakistan has around 35 million active social media users, according to a Global Digital report prepared by We Are Social and Hootsuite. Meanwhile, a Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) report stated that cellular subscribers in Pakistan crossed the 150 million mark in June last year, with over 10 million new subscribers added in the 12 month period preceding it.

One investigation officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the Karachi office has two technical experts and one forensic expert to deal with the cases. “The experts were hired ten years ago. They don’t receive refresher courses. There is so much changing and we need to know about it in order to better handle the situation,” the officer said.

The officer also underscored the importance of having investigators trained in interviewing complainants who are often young women who are vulnerable and dealing with conflicting pressures from the family and the society.

Deputy Director Abdul Ghaffar, whose intervention was pivotal in the F case, says the greatest challenge facing the agency is a lack of agreement with social media websites. “Currently, it takes almost three weeks to get Facebook to remove objectionable content. That’s light years in the internet world. We need policymaking at the highest level to come to agreements with these social media behemoths to drastically reduce the time in order for our actions to be more effective.”

Crusade in the digital age

Nighat Dad runs the Digital Rights Foundation, which focuses on digital security and online harassment among young women. She set up an online harassment helpline in December 2016, and it received over 2,000 complaints in the first two years till November 2018.

However, the last four months have witnessed a sudden upsurge, with over a 1,000 complaints, says Dad, adding that the complaints are not just limited to the digital space but also the work place as well as those on WhatsApp. The DRF has since set up another helpline, and enlisted lawyers willing to provide their services on pro bono basis. It also refers complaints to relevant authorities, including the FIA, as well as following up on them.

It has also successfully approached major social media websites to take down content including ‘intimate images shared without the consent of the individual’ or those that places an individual’s life in danger. The efforts have borne fruit as Facebook recently set up pre-emptive mechanisms, in consultation with experts from five countries including Pakistan, to detect and block the uploading of such images.

Dad also criticised victim blaming, often the knee-jerk response in such cases, and underscored the importance of understanding consent, where sharing an intimate image with one individual doesn’t mean that that individual has the right to share that image with others.

The names in the story have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. 

Reporting: Adil Jawad and Hussain Dada
Creative: Ibrahim Yahya

KARACHI. The ethnic Afghans, or Pashtuns, originated from the biblical Lost Tribes of Israel. It's an old theory. And many Pashtun tribes proudly subscribe to it. But it's not just a theory. Not just a hypothesis. We have historical, physical and anecdotal evidence to establish a genetic connection. This is what Rabbi Harry Rozenberg believes, at least.

"Pashtunwali makes it very clear to us who they [the Pashtuns] are," says the Jerusalem-based rabbi while referring to an unwritten tribal code the Pashtuns have been following unfailingly for centuries now. "It's the Mosaic Law in its most primitive form that these people in Afghanistan and Pakistan are keeping to this day."

If the Pashtuns accept their Israeli [Jewish] origin, their identity, it'll be the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, says Rozenberg, a social entrepreneur who heads iTribe.us, a global platform to connect the Israelite tribes scattered across the world.

"If we move down the history of the tribes of Israel, we know they were sent to Chavor. Verses [of the Torah] speak about it," he says in a Skype interview with The Express Tribune. The reference is to the Second Book of Kings. It says when the Assyrians conquered the northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) some 2,730 years ago, some of the 10 Jewish tribes had been exiled to Chavor [Khyber], on the banks of the River Gozan [the Gazni River].

Rozenberg is not making a new claim. In the late fifties, Israel's second president, Itzhak Ben Zvi, also referred to the exile from Samaria. "The Afghan tribes, among whom the Jews have lived for generations, are Muslims who retain to this day their amazing tradition about their descent from the Ten Tribes," he wrote in 'The Exiled and the Redeemed'.

North of the Gush Etzion border. PHOTO: HARRY ROZENBURG

The two remaining tribes – Benjamin and Judah – became the modern-day Jewish people, while the search for the Lost Tribes has continued ever since. "Verses also say that one day the people of Judah will have their land, they will get in touch with the Lost Tribes and work together to unite," says Rabbi Rozenberg, who is considered to be one of the leading voices backing the reconstitution of a global Israelite family.

"It's like a movie script. And while watching the movie, I'd expect to see the people who say they are from the ancient tribes of Israel. Now that's happening. And we already know how that is going to end, how it'd look like, what we are supposed to do together. The whole world map has been set. It's about time to activate," says the rabbi.

Notwithstanding ample evidence, definitive scientific proof has never been found to establish a genetic connection between the Pashtuns and the Israelites. Do we need a DNA test? "It could be an interesting thing, but it's not sufficient," says the rabbi. "We don't necessarily have the DNA mapped out on the ancient people of Israel, like Abraham, King David, or Jacob."

"There are common fusions among Israeli communities as far as DNA goes, but that doesn't mean much because there are millions of Ashkenazi Jews today while we teach they came from only 300 families," he says. "DNA is a mystery until we go to the graves of all Israelite kings and leaders and start taking DNA samples."

Nonetheless, genealogy-enthusiast Nadene Goldfoot says some DNA tests have confirmed a genetic connection between the Pashtuns and the Israelites. "Indian historian Dr [Navras Jaat] Aafreedi did a genetic study on the Afridi clan of Pashtuns in Malihabad, India. It was found that 650 out of the 1,500 members had DNA similar to genetic DNA found in Jews," writes Goldfoot, the author of 'Messages from a Syrian Jew Trapped in Egypt'.

"Research shows a relationship between Pashtun and Jewish (Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Mizrahi) DNA and also that Pashtun DNA is 2nd closest (68.1) to Ashkenazi DNA after Iranian and Iraqi Jews (67.9). Most of this research used Yousafzai, Afridi or Khattak samples from Pakistan and India," Goldfoot wrote in a blog 'Can Pashtun tribe of Afghanistan have Jewish roots? What DNA says'.

Rabbinic literature is full of direct and indirect references to the Jewish origin of the Pashtuns. And some leading Israeli anthropologists believe that, of all the many groups in the world who claim a connection to the Lost Tribes, the Pashtuns have the most compelling case.

"There are scholars of the highest stature from almost every university of Israel, and the greatest rabbis of Israel are today aware that the Lost Tribes are in Afghanistan. Scholars in several universities, including Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University and Ariel University, have written and are writing on the topic. And they all support this view," claims Rozenberg.

Many Pashtuns proudly claim that they are Beni Israel (Children of Israel). They have well preserved genealogies to establish the genetic connection. It's a paradox, though, because they consider the term Yahood (Jew) a reproach. And more ironically, the ultraconservative Taliban, who have emerged from the Pashtuns, consider Jews their sworn enemy.

Rabbi Rozenberg believes this hostility is because of the political Israel which has a bad name to it, not because of the great sages, the seers, and the wise men of the Jewish people. "The Jewish people have two separate leaders: the scholars of the Torah and the government. If the people in Afghanistan have animosity towards their brothers in Israel, we have to explain to them the difference between political Israel and the actual people of Israel," he says.

Rabbi Rozenberg, who also teaches a course on the Lost Tribes at Trio Academy, believes today's political leaders of Israel belong to the biblical 'mixed multitude'. The Book of Exodus says that when the Israelites left Egypt and went into the desert with Prophet Moses, some other people who were impressed with his miracles also joined them. "These people sinned greatly and made the Israelites sin too," says the rabbi. "Jewish teachings tell us that today the leaders of the Jewish people are from the 'mixed multitude'."

If their Semitic origin is established, will the Pashtuns need to convert to Judaism or migrate to Israel? "No," says Rozenberg. "When people think about the Lost Tribes, the first thing they think of is conversion to Judaism, right? I personally don't think this is the first step. Like I said, if the Pashtuns claim to be my cousins from the ancient family that are destined to reunite, we should not care about anything else for the fact that we can speak together."

Apart from their patriarchal appearance and Semitic features, the Pashtuns have several other commonalities with the Israelites. "Certain Pashtun customs connect them to the Law of Moses. For example, if someone dies, then his brother marries his widow to continue the name of his brother's seed. [Similarly] hospitality to your enemy is another area of the Mosaic Law. And places of refuge where one can go for protection. The Mosaic Law calls for setting up places where people cannot take revenge on you," says Rozenberg. "They don't eat camel. They don't eat horses which is common among cultures around them."

But the rabbi says it is not just physical similarities that the Pashtuns share with the Israelites. They have spiritual teachings that are similar. "I've friends from the Mahmudzai tribe of Pashtuns. And they have ancient teachings which are very similar to Kabala, the mystical side of Judaism," he claims. "All these things are obvious signs that we expect to see a people we were expecting to surface right about this time in history."

A Pashtun, Hebrew Israelite-Amar'e Stoudmire, 6 times NBA All Star, an Igbo, and a Jew. PHOTO: REMY ILLONA

Rozenberg's global platform iTribe.us aims to gather together the people of lost identity. If you're on Facebook or any other social network, you can register your community, your village, and it will show up where you are. It's free to log in. "Basically, this is the place where we can map out every single village, every single community in the world that says they are from the Lost Tribes. Once you map it out, people can meet each other, share messages, photos, videos, and exchange information," says the rabbi.

The land of the Pashtuns, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan, is impoverished, dirt poor, with infrastructure in tatters and medieval lifestyle. Rozenberg says they want to introduce cross funding features to their social network so that global Jewish financers can donate cash to help rebuild infrastructure for the Pashtun communities with sustainable technology, like electricity from the thin air, water filtration, food production, and other types of things Israel has innovated.

"We can have a real alliance with technology in Israel to our brothers in Afghanistan," says the rabbi. "And I think part of the prophecy says that we are going to have a highway that will bring home the Lost Tribes. Maybe, in the next 10 to 15 years, we will have a highway that will connect Israel to Afghanistan, like a speed train. The same day you can come and have a cup of tea with me in Jerusalem and then go back to the mountains, maybe near the Khyber Pass," he adds in a lighter vein. "With the latest technology, we can make that happen."











Military courts were established to try “jet black terrorists” in January 2015 as part of the National Action Plan – just a month after the deadly terrorist rampage at the Army Public School in Peshawar. The aim was to ensure swift and expeditious justice in terrorism cases. The courts were set up through a constitutional amendment with a “sunset clause” for a period of two years, but their tenure was extended for another two years in 2017. Now, with another extension being debated, The Express Tribune explains what the military courts are, how they work, and why they divide opinions

It was December 2007. A woman was murdered in Rawalpindi. Her case dragged on for a decade. Prosecutors change, judges change, even the suspect list keeps changing, but ten years later, a court finally decided on the case. All five prime suspects were released for want of evidence.

The woman was among two dozen people who died that fateful day in Rawalpindi, but her name stands out on the list of victims – Benazir Bhutto.

The case of the former prime minister is just one of the unfortunately high number of so-called "classic examples" of the failure of the Pakistani criminal justice system (CJS). Indeed, it was because of this sorry history that through a constitutional amendment in January 2015 – weeks after the APS Peshawar attack – Pakistan established military courts to try accused terrorists. The new law had a sunset clause of two years, but the courts have since been given two extensions. That is because today, four years after their inception as a stop-gap arrangement the federal and provincial governments have woefully failed to take any steps to make the criminal justice system more effective.

Supporters of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) hold a candle vigil in the memory of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto in Lahore. PHOTO: AFP

The Police Reforms Committee (PRC) constituted by the Supreme Court has comprehensively discussed the effectiveness of CJS and terrorism cases.

The committee was headed by former inspector general of Sindh Police (IG) Afzal Ali Shigri and comprised former Punjab IG Syed Masood Shah, former Sindh IG Asad Jahangir Khan, former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General (DG) Tariq Khosa, former Sindh IG Shoaib Suddle, and all incumbent inspectors general spent seven months preparing a report on police reforms, while also diagnosing weak areas in CJS regarding terrorism cases, provide a roadmap to enhance the effectiveness of the CJS for dealing with terrorism cases, evaluating existing laws for their efficacy, and recommending measures to effectively combat terrorism and violent extremism. The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, led by then-chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, on January 14 conducted a ceremony to launch the PRC report.

To terminate or adjudicate?

The PRC says that there are two models to deal with the challenge of terrorism – the war model and the criminal justice model. In the war model, the military plays the lead role and follows the rules of war in dealing with terrorists and terrorism affected areas. In the criminal justice model, the police play the lead role and the criminal justice system is the main instrument to deal with terrorists.

In Pakistan, the war model is being followed in insurgency-hit areas – such as those straddling the Afghan border – and the criminal justice model to deal with terrorism in the rest of the country.

The PRC report states that there is hardly any study that analyses national-level data to diagnose what ails the CJS in general and the anti-terrorism regime in particular. Without such data, it is near-impossible to make holistic recommendations. There have, however, been a few studies carried out at the provincial level.

Provincial research

The PRC report reveals that a study was carried out in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for the years 2015, 2016, and 2017 indicated that, on average, 48 per cent of cases filed by the police under the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) and sent to the Anti-Terrorist Courts (ATCs) were eventually discharged or dismissed by the courts.

Another study highlighted some of the deficiencies of the investigating officers posted in the K-P Counter Terrorism Department (CTD). Most of the investigation officers (IO) posted in the K-P CTD had not received any specialised training in dealing with terrorism investigations of cases, indicating a serious gap in police training programmes in K-P.

Moreover, an overwhelming number of IOs were not even aware of the investigation-related provisions of the Fair Trial Act, which prescribes the legal procedure for IOs to wiretap and intercept terrorists' communications in a manner that the information is admissible in court.

Another study was carried out by a police officer to identify the reasons for acquittal in terrorism cases in Punjab between 1990 and 2009. The study analysed 178 acquittal judgments and broadly identified three reasons – defects in the FIR, flawed investigations, and prosecution problems.

A similar study carried out by another police officer on cases registered under the ATA in Punjab points out the frequent application of ATA to crimes such as gang rape, and mass murder, which, strictly speaking, do not usually fulfil the definition of terrorism.

In fact, the study highlighted that between 2005 and 2011, only 4.6 per cent of cases registered under the ATA in Punjab involved explosives or suicide bombers, the most recognisable form of terrorism.

The same research also indicated that the average conviction rate in ATA cases in Punjab courts during the same period was only 14 per cent.

The PRC notes that after the CJP formed it to give recommendations to the Law and Justice Commission for Police Reforms, a quick survey was conducted. The provincial CTDs were asked to share the latest conviction figures in terrorism cases. It was found that the conviction rate improved in Punjab, going up to 61 per cent in 2016 and 2017, while in K-P it was just 30 per cent, and in Sindh it had gone down to an abysmally low four per cent.

The commission notes that there needs to be a significant improvement in the conviction rate in all the provinces, while also calling on Punjab to share the best practices employed to improve its conviction rate.

Reviewing anti-terrorism laws

The PRC report reveals that there is a consensus that all parts of CJS are not working satisfactorily. Conviction rates are low, trials are delayed, investigations are of "less than satisfactory" quality, and prosecution is slack. Law enforcement agencies still have to face the dilemma of effective response within the bounds of the law, ensuring procedural justice while working to achieve substantive justice. System's credibility and capabilities can be enhanced only through swift and certain punishment while ensuring procedural justice.

ATA reforms

The basic law to combat terrorism is the ATA. The PRC report reveals that the loose definitions of "terrorism" and "terrorist act" have resulted in considerable ambiguity as well as the application of the act, in many cases where it should not have been applied. Murder and attempted murder, which can and should ordinarily be covered by the general criminal law under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), have been registered under the ATA whenever some sensationalism has been attached to the surrounding circumstances. This is possible only because of the loose wording in the Act.

Another problem is that in many cases, an ATA clause is added to a murder charge appears at the request of complainants or the police to ensure a higher legal sanction and more severe punishment. New categories of offences, such as acid attacks and kidnapping for ransom have also added to the act because of demands for stricter penalties for these offences.

The report recommends that there is a need to revise the Act to directly address new categories of crimes, include suicide bombings and attacks, conspiracy to commit such attacks, armed insurgency, and conspiring to cause widespread disaffection against the state.

In addition, the definitions of 'terrorism' and 'terrorist act' also need to be improved so that any attacks attempting to or resulting in large scale destruction or widespread damage can be included.

Further, a special section on 'weapons of mass destruction' needs to be introduced along the lines of US laws, which define such attacks in a separate category to reinforce both, their different nature and the gravity of their consequences.

A special category of offences for attacks on security installations, armed forces, and law enforcement agencies and their facilities should be created, along with one for highly sensitive installations or infrastructure. Any symbol of national importance should be included in this category. The report explains that the attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team, GHQ, PNS Mehran, Sargodha Police Academy, and the FIA building underscore the importance of separate categories.

Meanwhile, recoveries of explosives and weapons are covered under the Explosives Act, 1884, the Explosive Substances Act, 1908, and the Pakistan Arms Ordinance, 1965, and are not offences under the ATA.

This practically means that illegal weapons possession, even high calibre or automatic weapons, is only punishable with short jail terms and modest fines. Historically, courts have even been reluctant in awarding these punishments, and this tradition carries over even into cases that are registered under ATA. Therefore, possession of arms in relation to terrorist acts does not result in penalties to match the crime. Similarly, the Explosive Substances Act is an antiquated law that does not adequately apply to modern explosives.

Aiding and abetting terrorism

The PRC believes that terrorist acts, in their modern form, require the active collaboration and assistance of several people to succeed. However, the act fails to sufficiently take into account recruitment and radicalisation, terror financing, and other forms of aiding and abetting terrorism.

Training suicide bombers, bomb-making training,  weapons training, and harbouring terrorists are some examples of aiding and abetting. Similarly, propagation and dissemination of ideas or literature leading to terrorism should also attract more serious penalties.

There is also no provision for providing assistance within Pakistan to any international agencies in connection with acts of international terrorism with links in Pakistan. A provision needs to be made with a prescribed mechanism for such assistance. The report also criticises the limited attention paid to terror financing.

Law enforcement

The PRC notes that law enforcement agencies and courts are hampered in effective investigations and adjudication of cases due to lack of legal powers which are necessitated by the very nature of terrorism in recent years and rapid changes in technology.

There is a need to provide powers to the police and other investigating agencies such as the FIA and provincial CTDs for the monitoring and surveillance of persons, financial transactions and money flows in connection with terrorism. It also suggests looping in financial institutions.

The report further states that there is a need for an effective victim and witness protection program under the act, instead of the status quo position of leaving it to the provinces. The police and the courts should also be empowered to "take all necessary steps" to ensure that the victims, witnesses, judges, investigation officers and prosecutors are effectively protected in during and after terrorism trials. These steps could involve image and voice distortion, closed sessions, and any other measures considered necessary and expedient in the interest of justice and the protection of witnesses.

Procedural issues

Procedural bottlenecks effectively kill any chances of successful prosecution and conviction in terrorism cases. The report calls the provisions in the law of evidence and court rules "antiquated" and says they do not cater to the new reality of the present day. There is a need to amend the law of evidence as well as the act to make the testimony of police officers admissible as evidence, which is already the case in many countries around the world, especially in the context of terrorism cases, where witnesses are not forthcoming due to fear and oral testimony is given significant value. This would require amendments are needed in the law of evidence, specifically in the Qanoon-e-Shahadat Order, along with amendments in the act itself.

Further, there is a need to amend the law in order to make circumstantial evidence admissible in terrorism cases, but only after building safeguards into the act to ensure that it is not misused.

The report states that there is a need to come up with a mechanism to do away with the requirement of physical presence at the crime scene. There is also a need to move away from the approach of connecting the persons present at the scene of a crime to the persons planning the terrorist act. In such circumstances, the standard of proof required in the Qanoon-e-Shahadat Order should be relaxed and circumstantial evidence should be made admissible.

Similarly, it is also stated that the premier strategic-level national body for counterterrorism is the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), established under the NACTA Act, 2013. Some of the important provisions of the NACTA Act are not being implemented.

The law clearly lays down that the organisation shall be responsible to the prime minister, yet the Interior Ministry refuses to let go of it. As per the law, an essential starting point of NACTA has to be a meeting of the Board of Governors, headed by the PM.

The Board of Governors (BoG), inter alia, has to approve its budget, issue guidelines, and approve SOPs, but that is not being done.

Its main functions also include preparing terrorist threat assessments for the government by collating intelligence from all agencies, develop CT strategies and monitor its implementation, carry out research in terrorism-related areas, and evaluation of terrorism-related laws. But the BoG went five years without a meeting, leaving it unable to give any strategic direction or unity to the national counterterrorism effort.

Need for a federal CTD

The PRC also states that there is a need for a federal counterterrorism department. They felt the existing Counter Terrorism Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency lacked the capacity to investigate ATA cases having interprovincial or transnational ramifications.

Implementation of PRC report

Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan Secretary Raheem Awan told The Express Tribune that the report is being sent to all relevant quarters of federal and provincial governments for implementation. He agreed that it would be greatly beneficial to improving the CJS by acting on the recommendations in the report.

Military courts and the CJP

Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa's first speech after taking his oath of office noted that military courts trying civilians in criminal cases are universally perceived as an aberration propelled by necessity and expediency. "If the legislature, in its own wisdom, decides to continue with such courts for the time being, then it may consider providing for appeals of their decisions to lie before a high court so as to adjust such courts in the normal judicial hierarchy and to ensure that expediency does not trump justice," he added.
A Pakistani soldier keeps watch outside SC. PHOTO: AFP

Bar perspective

Pakistan Bar Council executive member Raheel Kamran Sheikh believes that stronger political will and economic commitment is required to implement PRC reforms. "The criminal justice system will not deliver until and unless all three processes – investigation, prosecution and adjudication – perform efficiently and complement each other for the sake of justice," he said. Sheikh added that there is no example in the world of military courts providing an answer to a deficiently performing criminal justice system, "but failure to make the system efficient is a deplorable reality, and as a nation, we are not likely to get rid of those immediately."

International jurists

In January 2018, The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) issued a research paper titled "Military Injustice in Pakistan". The paper called on Pakistan to ensure the jurisdiction o military courts to try civilians is not extended beyond March 30, 2019. The ICJ also questioned the procedures set to refer cases to military courts, the use of secret hearings, the standards of evidence, the composition of the military courts, and access and use of the right of appeal, among other issues. In the four years since military courts were empowered to try terrorism-related offences, they have convicted at least 641 people, possibly including children, in opaque, secret proceedings. Only five people have been acquitted.  At least 56 people have been hanged after trials. Since January 2015, the government has constituted 11 military courts to hear "terrorism" cases.  The military courts have thus far concluded the trials of at least 646 people, finding the defendants guilty in at least 641 cases for a conviction rate of 99.2 per cent. Some 345 people have been sentenced to death and 296 people have been given prison terms. At least 56 out of the 345 people sentenced to death have been hanged. Only five people have been acquitted.
In October 2018, the Peshawar High Court set aside the convictions of more than 70 people who were tried by military courts on various terrorism-related charges. The court ordered their release after finding that the proceedings had been conducted in bad faith and that there was effectively no evidence against the accused persons. The PHC's judgment confirms concerns raised by human rights groups, including the ICJ, that the proceedings of military courts violate basic fair trial standards under the Constitution, as well as international law. The Court's findings also demonstrate how "speedy justice" has come at the cost of basic principles of fairness, and that by failing to prove the guilt of the accused before independent and impartial tribunals, the State has perpetrated gross human rights violations.

A way forward

Despite serious reservations over the method of military courts to try civilians, there is a consensus that the criminal justice system is ineffective as investigations are not conducted in a professional manner, and prosecution remains poor. Unnecessary delays in the completion of trials also occur for several, often weak, reasons. On the other hand, it is clear that military justice is also not a cure-all solution, and there is a dire need to improve the criminal justice system.

On Dec 16, 2014, Taliban terrorists rampaged through a military-run school in Peshawar. Nearly 150 people – most of them schoolchildren and some of them as young as five years of age – were massacred. It was "the most unkindest cut of all" in Pakistan's long, bloody tryst with terrorism. Revenge became the rallying call. And all political parties developed a rare consensus on the National Action Plan, or NAP, to stamp out terrorism. The extraordinary circumstances warranted extraordinary measures, so, NAP envisaged, among other things, the establishment of military courts to try civilians accused of terrorism-related offences.

Military courts were set up through the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2015 and further extended for two years through Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2017, by parliament on January 7, 2015 and March 31, 2017, respectively. These special tribunals are completing their mandated two-year tenure next month. If denied an extension, they would cease to function in March. Some opposition parties, the PPP in particular, say they had reluctantly acquiesced to the establishment of military courts in "extraordinary circumstances" and would not vote for a second extension because incidents of terrorism have already significantly declined in the country. The PPP fears that further extensions in the military courts' tenure might lead to "militarisation of the judiciary and judicialisation of the military".

Vigil held in Islamabad on Dec 18, 2014, for more than 140 children and teachers killed in APS attack. PHOTO: AFP

There is no denying that the military courts were set up as a stop-gap arrangement to offer parliament time to strengthen the criminal justice system, according to proponents. They say that lacunae in the criminal justice system help terrorists get away with their heinous crimes. And expeditious trial and sentencing of terrorists would serve as deterrence. Critics, however, say the military courts are in conflict with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the 1973 Constitution. And they have their own arguments.

Controversy aside, let's see how a military court works.

We have 14 military courts across the country – six in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, three each in Punjab and Sindh, and one each in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. Since their establishment, 717 cases had been referred to the military courts. Of these, they have adjudicated 646 cases to date. They have condemned 345 terrorists to death, of whom 56 have been hanged. Similarly, 296 terrorists have been awarded varying jail-terms, while five suspects have been acquitted due to lack of sufficient incriminating evidence.

The offences for which convictions have been granted include the killing of innocent civilians, attacking military and law enforcement officials, attacks on educational institutions, places of worship, hospitals, and airports, kidnapping, and sectarian violence, along with weapons possession and providing or receiving funding for terror activities.

So how do cases get to the military courts?

The government has a comprehensive procedure in place for transfers of terrorism cases to military courts. The transfer is approved by the federal and provincial apex committees set up to overse the implementation of NAP. Senior civil and military officials sit on these committees and decide on the merits or demerits of whether or not to transfer specific cases.

Based on their recommendations, the transfers must then be approved by the prime minister.

All approved cases are processed under the Army Act and related military rules and regulations. During the pre-trial stage, initial investigations and interrogation are carried out by police officials, usually investigation officers. Confessional statements are then recorded before a judicial magistrate under Section 164 of CrPC. A proper statement of evidence is then recorded under Army Act Rule 13. The Complete record is then vetted, first by the Corps legal cell and finally by the Judge Advocate General's Department – the army's legal arm. Charges are then framed.

At the trial stage, a court is constituted under Army Act Section 87, and convening orders for the trial are issued, with neutral officers assigned to hold the trials. Prosecution witnesses are produced before the court and evidence is recorded under Qanoon-e-Shahadat, 1984 – the Evidence Act. The accused and his lawyer are provided with a proper opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses. At the conclusion of the prosecution's arguments, the defence presents its case. The accused also has the option to make any statement before the court and to call defence witnesses.

The court then deliberates and rules on the basis of all the evidence and arguments from both sides.

After the trial, the proceedings are forwarded to JAG's department for review. If approved, JAG's department then confirms the findings of the court and in case of death penalty cases, the sentence is confirmed by the COAS. The sentence of the Field General Court Martial is the promulgated to the accused, who is then shifted to a civilian jail.

The sentence can be appealed first in a military court of appeal, which is presided by a general and two brigadiers. Convicts awarded capital punishment may appeal against the sentence within 40 days of the signing of the sentence. The convict may also hire defence counsel of their own choice. The appeal court may accept or reject the appeal in whole or in part, substitute the sentence, order a retrial, annul the proceedings, or remit the sentence.

If the verdict is upheld on appeal, the convict may send a mercy petition to the COAS within 60 days of the appeals court decision, and to the president of Pakistan within 90 days of rejection of a mercy petition by the COAS.

In some instances, cases have been filled in different civilian courts against the decisions of military courts. In such cases, an accused who is unable to engage or afford counsel of his choice is provided with a public defender.

With a decision on the extension of the military courts looming, political parties have formed a mostly-united front on the issue. No more courts, they say. But their approach to getting their demands met shows fractures.

The military courts' were activated a month after the December 2014 APS attack. Their initial tenure of two years was then extended for another two.

Four years on, party leaders see the courts' future in a different light. Senior Pakistan People's Party's leader and the country's former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani says the courts were only meant to be in place for a short time and could no longer be afforded. Besides Gillani, senior PPP leader Farhatullah Babar also expressed serious reservations about extending their tenure.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) says the decision is up to the parliament, and that it is developing a consensus. Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry says the courts, part of the National Action Plan, were established in a different political climate and an alternate mechanism would be put in place if they were removed. "These courts were established and later extended by the parliament. Their purpose was to eradicate militancy," PTI's KP spokesperson Shaukat Yousafzai says in support. In a similar vein, Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan agrees the courts were established "in a state of helplessness," so that parties were "compelled" to accept them, adding that parliament never reformed the civil judicial system as it should have.

JUI-F Senator Hafiz Hamdullah mentioned his disdain over the courts, saying the National Accountability Bureau, Joint Investigation Teams have now been "militarised", and the apex court is now under pressure. The party was never in favor of the courts, the senator says. "If the apex court can handle Mumtaz Qadir's high profile case and at the same time let Asia Masih go free, why can't it decide militants' cases?" The civil judicial system deserves attention and reform, the senator says.

As political parties deliberate, PTI faces serious pressure. Pakistan People's Party senior leader Makhdoom Ahmed met PML-N's jailed Nawaz Sharif in Kot Lakhpat Jail. Sources say PPP, PML-N, JUI-F, including other opposition parties, are all set to oppose the extensions. They also plan on demanding the government report on the courts' performance and justify their continued existence. Various party leaders have also formed a committee which includes PML-N's Rana Sanaullah, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Tanveer, PPP's Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Khursheed Shah, Naveed Qamar and Senator Sherry Rehman, JUI-F's Maulana Abdul Wassay, ANP's Amir Haider Khan Hooti and JI's Alia Kamran. This committee will hold talks with the government's own committee which includes Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak and Minister of Education Shafqat Mehmood.

Sources say the parties essentially plan on using a trade and barter policy with the government to bargain their demands and use the military courts as bait. But Punjab's former law minister and PMLN senior leader Rana Sanaullah says his party still has differing views over the courts, though he says it strongly believes in the need to move away from them and find an alternative.
PPP's Khursheed Shah says the party has not yet contacted the government regarding the matter. He added he doesn't think the matter will be resolved by the parliamentary committee alone, and PM Imran Khan must contact opposition leaders and take them into confidence.
In the strongest words issued by a party leader yet, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman says the courts are against the democratic spirit and "don't have a tasteful imprint on the leaves of history".

And though the government hasn't yet extended an invitation for talks on the matter, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak invited opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif for a meeting in National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser's chamber. The invitation was turned down by Sharif. Sources say he isn't ready to talk to the party leadership on the matter, even as other parties have consolidated their stance. The party has reportedly also banned members from giving policy statements on the issue.

Expeditious trials and the judicial system's incapacity to deliver speedy justice make an argument for the extension of the military courts. But the buck stops at the fairness of the trial. Is the country's persistent reliance on military courts - and the opacity of the legal process in these tribunals - counter-productive for Pakistan's anti-terrorism efforts?

"Justice should not simply be 'speedy' - it should also be carried out through a just, legally correct, fair and open trial process. Justice must not only be done - but it must also be seen to be done," stressed human rights activist Tahira Abdullah.

Rights activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir believes the idea of speedy justice to be a "false notion" and a "misnomer". "Speedy is a word I will agree with. Justice is a word I certainly do not agree with because justice cannot be guaranteed unless all tests of law are met under the due procedure." "It is a sensitive and predacious way of giving justice but is not transparent. I believe when the authorities have decided that a certain person ought to be convicted, it is just a routine exercise. The Peshawar High Court (PHC) verdict acquitting 74 military courts convicts is very telling. It reveals that tons of cases had the same confession statement signed by one convict after the other."
Rights activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir.

General (retd) Amjad Shoaib explained that the idea behind speedy trials at military courts revolved around discipline. "A system has been developed to ensure people are held responsible without delay. As a backbone of the armed forces, it is imperative to maintain discipline."

On the other hand, defence analyst Imtiaz Gul dismissed the idea that military courts provided quick justice. "Statistics show that over 700 cases have been forwarded to military courts since 2015. Out of which 500 were decided. But the precise statistics show that only 18 per cent of the sentences were carried out. The remaining 82 per cent are pending appeals with apex and high courts. It shows that the military courts have been unable to execute convictions."

Shoaib argued that the military courts conducting trials of civilians did not qualify as 'pure' military trials conducted by the army. "The convicts are allowed to file appeals in civil courts where cases are dragged. The intelligence gathered by agencies is dismissed in civil courts. The convicts are then acquitted."

Abdullah said military courts were not a solution as they violated basic human rights and fundamental constitutional requirements of the right to a fair trial. "It is neither a short-term nor a long-term viable solution."

Reiterating that military courts are not a permanent solution, Nasir claimed that it allowed "matters to be covered up" hence proving counter-productive for the country's counter-terrorism narrative.


Lieutenant-General (retd) Talat Masood believes the military courts were an interim arrangement to cater to a huge backlog of cases piled up over the years.

Masood reflected that the military courts were also meant to create an image that the state is determined to punish terrorists. "It was expected that the government would take remedial measures to overcome the shortcomings and revert to the dispensation of cases through civilian courts."

He said since successive governments had failed to derive a mechanism, another extension for the military courts has become inevitable. He added that the arrangement could not continue indefinitely.

Abdullah asserted that no number of extensions can enforce judicial restructure or reduce the backlog of pending cases. "The reforms must come from the judiciary itself with genuine support from the executive branch. Filling the vacant positions at all tiers, police reforms to improve criminal justice administration are important."

Gul stressed that the long-term solution lies with the revision of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) and the Civil Procedure Code (CPc). "These laws are from the 1860s British era – in the United Kingdom, the laws are revised every 15 to 20 years."

List of convicts awarded death sentence by military courts to date

SerName Press Release no and Date Death Sentences Rigorous Imprisonment
1. Noor Saeed, Haider ali, Murad Khan, Inayatullah, Israr uddin and Qari Zahir and Abbas 79/2 Apr 15 7 1
2. Civilian Muhammad Sabir Shah alias IkramUllah S/O SherHazrat, Civilian Hafiz Muhammad Usman alias Abbas alias Asad S/O Ali Dost, Civilian Asad Ali alias Bhai Jan, Civilian Tahir S/O Mir Shah Jahan, Civilian Fateh Khan S/O Mukaram Khan and Civilian QariAmeen Shah aliasAmeen S/O Minar Shah 274/2 Sep 15 7 1
3. Civilian Hazrat Ali S/O Awal Baz, Civilian Mujeeb ur Rehman alias Ali alias NajeebUllah S/O Ghulab Jan, Civilian SabeelalisasYahya S/O Atta Ullah, Civilian MolviAbdus Salam S/O Shamshi, Civilian Taj Muhammad alias Rizwan S/O Altaf Khan, Civilian Ateeq ur Rehman alias Usman S/O Ali Rehman, Civilian Kifayat Ullah alias Kaif Qari S/O Ghulam Haider (RI) and Civilian Muhammad Farhan alias Ali alias Abbas alias Aijaz Qadri 246/13 Aug 15 7 1
4. Civilian Said Zaman Khan S/O Said Nawaz Khan, Civilian Obaid Ullah S/O Muhammad Azam Baloch, Civilian Mehmood S/O Khawaza Khan, Civilian Qari Zubair Muhammad S/O Sakhi Muhammad, Civilian Rab Nawaz S/O Shahi Room, Civilian Muhammad Sohail S/o Zahoor Ahmed, Civilian Muhammad Imran S/O Muhammad Hanif, Civilian Aslam Khan S/O Rozi Khan, Civilian Jameel ur Rehman S/O Sher Rehman and Civilian Jamshed Raza S/O Allah Ditta (RI) 291/21 Sep 15 9 1
5. Muhammad Ghauri S/O Javed Iqbal, Muhammad Imran S/O Abdul Manan, Aksan Mehboob S/O Asghar Ali and Adbul Rauf Gujjar S/O Rehmat Ali (accused no 1), Muhammad Hashim S/O Muhammad Abdullah (accused no 2) ,Sulaman S/O Boneer ( accused no 3), Shafqat Farooqi S/O Malik Liaqat Ali (accused no 4) and Muhammad Farhan S/O Muhammad Rafique (accused no 5) 1/1 Jan 16 9 0
6. Muhammad Arbi S/O Hafiz Muhammad Sadiq, Rafi Ullah S/O Muhammad Miskeen, Qari Asif MehmoodS/O Muhammad Anwar, Shawaleh S/O Gul Khan, Muhammad Zeeshan S/O Abdul Qayyum Khan, Nasir Khan S/O Khan Afsar Khan, Shoukat Ali S/O Abdul Jabbar, ImdadUllah S/O Abdul Wajid, Muhammad Umar S/O Saida Jan, Sabir Shah S/O Syed Ahmed Shah, Khandan S/O Dost Muhammad Khan and Anwar Ali S/O Fazal Ghani 51/11 Feb 16 12 0
7. Irfan Ullah S/O Khudayar, Mushtaq Ahmed S/O Muhammad Miraj, Muhammad Nawaz S/O Gul Muhammad, Taj Gul S/O Sultan Zareen, Asghar Khan S/O Aziz Ur Rehman (Convict Number 1), Ahmed Ali S/O Bakhat Karam (Convict Number 2) and Haroon ur Rasheed S/O Mian Said Usman (Convict Number 3), Bakht-e-Ameer S/O Ameer Zareen, Aziz Khan S/O Ashber, Fazal-e-Ghaffar S/O Shehzada, Asghar Khan S/O Ahmad Jan, Ikram Ullah S/O Habib Ullah and Haider S/O Daim Khan 88/15 Mar 16 14 0
8. Muhammad Umar S/O Daleel Khan, Hameedullah S/O Muhammad Ghazi (Convict Number 1), Rehmatullah S/O Umar Din (Convict Number 2), Muhammad Nabi S/O Dilawar Shah (Convict Number 3) and Moulvi Dilbar Khan S/O Kashkar (Convict Number 4), Rizwan Ullah S/O Taj Mir Khan, Gul Rehman S/O Zareen, Muhammad Ibrahim S/O Maseen, Sardar Ali S/O Muhammad Akram Khan, Sher Muhammad Khan S/O Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Jawad S/O Muhammad Musa 163/3 May 16 11 0
9. Tahir Hussain Minhas s/o Khadim Hussain Minhas( Convict no1), Saad Aziz s/o Abdul Aziz Sheikh ( Convict no2), Asad ur Rehman s/o Atique ur Rehman ( Convict no3), Hafiz Nasir s/o Afzal Ahmed ( Convict no4) and Muhammad Azhar Ishrat S/O Ishrat Rasheed Ahmed Convict 5). 172/12 May 16 5 0
10. Muhammad Qayyum Bacha S/O Mian Said Ghani, Muhammad Asif S/O Anwar Hussain (Convict Number 1), Shahadat Hussain S/O Anwar Hussain (Convict Number 2) and Yasin S/O Muhammad Yar Hussain (Convict Number 3), Muhammad Tayyab S/O Ameer Zada, Said Akbar S/O Liber Khan, Muhammd Ayaz S/O Muhammad Jan, Barkat Ali S/O Abdul Ghaffar, Aziz Ur Rehman S/O Abdul Jalal, Hussan Dar S/O Muhammad Raheem, Ishaq S/O Abdul Hai and Behram Sher S/O Khairan 242/14 Jul 16 12 0
11. Zia Ul Haq S/O Wali Khan, Fazal e Rabbi S/O Fazal Ghafoor, Muhammad Sher S/O Zaray, Umer Zada S/O Gul Rehman, Latif Ur Rehman S/O Saif Ur Rehman, Muhammad Adil S/O Muhammad Akbar Jan, Israr Ahmed S/O Abdul Rahim Jan, Abdul Majeed S/O Khona Moula, Hazrat Ali S/O Fazal Rabi, Mian Said Azam S/O Mian Said Jaffar and Qaiser Khan S/O Habib Khan /16 Aug 16 11 0
12. Muhammad Qasim Tori S/O Muhammad Farooq, Abid Ali S/O Muhammad Ramzan and Muhammad Danish S/O Noor Bux, Syed Jehangir Haider S/O Syed Karam Haider and Zeeshan S/O Mureed Abbas and Mutabar Khan S/O Parvanat Khan and Rehman Ud Din S/O Moamber /22 Sep 16 7 0
13. Muhammad Shahid Omar S/O Zaman Khan, Hussain Shah S/O Fazal-e-Hadi, Zafar Iqbal S/O Muhammad Khan, Anwer Zeb S/O Tootkay, Obaid ur Rehman S/O Fazal Hadi, Sher Alam S/O Hanif ur Rehman, Atta Ullah S/O Muhammad Sultan, Mushtaq Khan S/O Saeed Gul and Asghar Khan S/O Nadar Khan and Shams ul Qamar S/O Sha Gulbar 357/13 Oct 16 10 0
14. Sajid S/O Ibrahim Khan, Javed Khan S/O Faqeer Gul, Fazl e Haq S/O Shahdad, Fazal Rehman S/O Fazal Karim, Zahid Khan S/O Kitab Shah, Umar Saeed S/O Hazrat Saeed, Rahmat S/O Ismail Khan, Bakht Wali S/O Amal Khan and Nazeer Ahmed S/O Allahdad 397/7 Nov 16 9 0
15. Hanifa S/O Umar Zareen, Tirah Gul S/O Khan and Muhammad Wali S/O Faulad Khan, Khaista Muhammad S/O Abdul Jalil, (Ali Rehman S/O Habib-Ur-Rehman, Fazal Ali S/O Fazal Wahid and Muhammad Ali S/O Abdul Rehman (RI), Nisar Ali S/O Damsaz Khan, Khial Jan S/O Sayel Jan and Payo Jan S/O Asal Jan 430/22 Nov 16 7 3
16. Latif Ullah Mehsud S/O Ramzan, Arafat S/O Gul Zarin, Wahid Ali S/O Abdul Ali, Akbar Ali S/O Kareem Ullah, Muhammad Riaz S/O Muhammad Diyar Khan and Noor Ullah S/O Muhammad Diyar Khan, Abdul Rehman S/O Abdul Majeed, Mian Said Raheem S/O Mian Aqal Jan, Noor Muhammad S/O Shah Wali, Sher Ali S/O Mambar, Syed Qasim Shah S/O Syed Amin Shah, Muhammad Usman S/O Khair Ali Khan and Muhammad Waqar Faisal S/O Ghulam Sadiq 492/16 Dec 16 13 0
17. Hafiz Muhammad Umar alias Jawad S/O Afzal Ahmed, Ali Rehman alias Pano/Tona S/O Asif ur Rehman, Abdul Salam alias Tayyab/Rizwan Azeem S/O Muhammad Nazar ul Islam and Khurram Shafique alias Abdullah Mansoor/Abdullah Mansuri S/O Muhammad Shafiq, Muslim Khan S/O Abdul Rasheed, Muhammad Yousaf S/O Khalid Khan, Saif Ullah S/O Naseeb Hussain, Bilal Mehmood S/O Qari Mehmood Ul Hassan (RI), Sartaj Ali s/o Bakht Afsar (RI) and Fazal e Ghaffar s/o Aqil Khan 506/28 Dec 16 8 3
18. Riaz Ahmed S/O Ghularam Khan, Hafeez ur Rehman S/O Habib ur Rehman, Muhammad Saleem S/O Muslim Khan and Kifayat Ullah S/O Dilresh 453/8 Sep 17 4 23
19. Shabbir Ahmed S/O Muhammad Shafique, Umara Khan S/O Ahmed Khan, Tahir Ali S/O Syed Nabi and Aftab ud Din S/O Farrukh Zada 468/20 Sep 17 4 0
20. Sami ur Rahman S/O Gul Habib and Azeem Khan S/O Shaiber, Arshad Bilal S/O Khadim Khan and Anwar Ali S/O Fazal Ghaffar, Muhammad Aleem S/O Abdull Rasheed and Fazal Aleem S/O Abdul Rasheed, Rasool Muhammad S/O Ahmed Jan, Sohail Ahmed S/O Usman Ali, Naimat Ullah S/O Ahmed and Rahmat Ali S/O Noor Said 31/19 Jan 18 10 3
21. Atlas Khan S/O Mada Mir Jan and Muhammad Yousaf Khan S/O Mir Azam Khan, Farhan S/O Seen Gul, Khalay Gul S/O Niaz Min Gul and Nazar Moon S/O Akimoon, Nek Maeel Khan S/O Amal Khan and Akbar Ali S/O Bakhtiar 58/9 Feb 18 7 5
22. Muhammad Ishaq S/O Muhammad Ibrahim and Muhammad Asim S/O Abdul Rehman, Muhammad Arish Khan S/O Muhammad Aslam, Muhammad Rafique S/O Hameed Khan, Habib Ur Rehman S/O Khoba Gul, Muhammad Fayyaz S/O Gul Faraz, Ismail Shah S/O Nek Badshah, Fazal Muhammad S/O Abdul Mateen, Hazrat Ali S/O Muhammad Ali and Habib Ullah S/O Anwar Baig 131/2 Apr 18 10 5
23. Burhan Uddin S/O Umar Daraz, Shaheer Khan S/O Rehman Uddin and Gul Faraz Khan S/O Wasli Khan, Muhammad Zeb S/O Muhammad Nawab, Saleem S/O Abdul Mateen, Izat Khan S/O Ajib ul Bahar, Muhammad Imran S/O Hazrat Umar, Yousaf Khan S/O Ahmed Jan, Nadir Khan S/O Amir Rehman, Muhammad Arif Ullah Khan S/O Zareen Gul and Bakht Muhammad Khan S/O Ghawas Khan 162/5 May 18 11 3
24. Ashiq Khan S/O Saad Ullah Khan, Rasheed S/O Momeen Khan, Meraj S/O Sheen Gul, Muhammad Rasool S/O Naikmat Khan, Jannat Karim S/O Gul Karim, Abu Bakar S/O Haider Khan, Anwar Khan S/O Abdul Janan, Ghulam Habib S/O Sher Bahadar, Abdul Ghafoor S/O Muhammad Jan, Rawaz Khan S/O Zameen Khan and Mubarik Zeb S/O Abdul Latif and Ayub Khan S/O Haji Muhammad 218/2 Jul 18 12 6
25. Ghani Rehman S/O Fazal Rehman, Abdul Ghazi S/O Sabeel Khan, Zia ur Rehman S/O Peer Zada , Javid Khan S/O Noor Zada, Muhammad Zubair S/O Nawab Shah, Umar Nawaz S/O Khaliq ur Rehman, Sajid Khan S/O Sher Rehman, Haibat Khan S/O Nadar Khan, Ahmed Shah S/O Lal Gul, Baz Muhammad S/O Lal Said, Momeen Khan S/O Noor Haleem Shah and Suleman Bahadur S/O Gul Bahadur Khan 227/13 Jul 18 12 6
26. Khiwal Muhammad S/O Babo Rahman, Saddam Ullah S/O Sher Nawab Khan, Izhar S/O Bakhat Buland, Jan Bacha S/O Bacha Rawan, Sharafat Ali S/O Muhammad Amin, Habibullah S/O Ghulam Ahad, Said Ullah S/O Awal Jan, Zar Muhammad S/O Sakhi Mar Jan, Alif Khan S/O Sardar Khan, Mujahid S/O Yar Wali, Tariq Ali S/O Bawar Shah, Israr Ahmed S/O Taj Muhammad, Kaleem Ullah S/O Hayat Ullah, Muhammad Rehman S/O Sher Ramzan and Fayaz Ullah S/O Muhammad Nawaz Khan 244/16 Aug 18 15 6
27. Munir Rehman S/O Fazal Rehman, Muhammad Bashir S/O Abdul Rashid, Hafiz Abdullah S/O Muhammad Iqbal, Bakht Ullah Khan S/O Ajmal Khan, Shah Khan S/O Abdul Badshah, Muhammad Sohail Khan S/O Raza Khan, Daud Shah S/O Mian Gul Zada, Muhammad Munir S/O Syed Badshah, Habib Ullah S/O Muhammad Amin, Muhammad Asif S/O Inayat Ur Rehman, Gul Shah S/O Ghuncha Gul, Jalal Hussain S/O Sher Afzal Khan and Ali Sher S/O Rahamdal Khan 274/10 Sep 18 13 7
28. Rehman Ali S/O Hassan Ghani, Rehmat Ali S/O Sher Malik, Saif ur Rehman S/O Akbar Aman, Fazal Mabood S/O Fazal Rabi, Irshad Ahmed S/O Mumtaz, Afreen S/O Naseem, Ahmad Hussain S/O Qari Muhammad Zarif, Bacha Rehman S/O Masoom Jan, Muhammad Majeed Khan S/O Sanoubar, Muhammad Aqil S/O Nawab Ali, Saif Ullah S/O Muhammad Rafique, Muhammad Sher Ali Khan S/O Sher Afzal Khan, Muhammad Tariq S/O Ghulam Badshah and Ali Rehman S/O Fazal Wahid 326/26 Oct 18 14 8
29. Anwar Salam S/O Said Nazar, Irfan ul Haq S/O Dilbar, Sahib Zada S/O Akbar Zada, Nadir Khan S/O Ahmed, Izat Khan S/O Bashreen, Imtiaz Ahmed S/O Taj Muhammad, Ameer Zeb S/O Jahangir, Badshah Iraq S/O Muhammad Ishaq, Izhar Ahmed S/O Mukhtiar Ahmed, Akbar Ali S/O Shaiber Sahib and Muhammad Imran S/O Aziz Ur Rehman 353/23 Nov 18 11 22
30. Hameed Ur Rehman S/O Moazmin Mullah, Said Ali S/O Munawar Khan, Ibrar S/O Abdul Rahim, Fida Hussain S/O Muhammad Hussain, Raza Ullah S/O Ikram Ullah, Rahim Ullah S/O Fateh Khan, Umar Zada S/O Bashar, Amjad Ali S/O Muhammad Ajan, Abdur Rahman S/O Abdul Wahab, Ghulam Rahim S/O Munjra Khan, Muhammad Khan S/O Ghulam Haider, Rahim Ullah S/O Noorani Gul, Rashid Iqbal S/O Hameed Iqbal, Muhammad Ghafar S/O Qari Muhammad Zarif, Rehman Ali S/O Muhammad Aziz 382/16 Dec 18 15 20
31. Mohi Ud Din S/O Salah Ud Din and Gul Zameen S/O Shah Kameen Khan, Fazal Hadi S/O Bakht Rawan, Muhammad Wahab S/O Hazrat Buland, Gul Muhammad S/O Ghulam Sardar, Bashir Ahmed S/O Nadir Khan, Afreen Khan S/O Masam Khan, Barkat Ali S/O Bakht Hazir, Muhammad Islam S/O Muhammad Zada, Rooh Ul Amin S/O Zarin, Shtamand S/O Baishmand, Bacha Wazir S/O Bakhat Nazir, Mohammad S/O Abdul Shakoor and Muhammad Ismail S/O Ibrahim 394/21 Dec 18 14 20
TOTAL: 310 144

Meanwhile, Shoaib urged for a revamp of the civil judicial system to accept the workings of a military court trial. He highlighted the importance of testimony in cases of terrorism. "The biggest loophole is that the suicide bomber is dead – there are no witnesses. The only people who can link him to the act are found through human intelligence. The agencies find the witnesses and abettors, but their testimonies are rejected by civil courts who ask for further evidence. The convicts claim their confessions were made under duress. The kind of testimony and evidence civil courts seek cannot be provided in terrorism-related cases."

The retired general said the Parliament hid behind accusations of human rights violations to cover their failure to craft an alternate solution.

Masood opined that the government can implement military courts practice of protecting the judges and witnesses identities by using modern technologies. "The judges can perform their duties remotely. The government should make special security arrangements for the judges and prosecutors. It would be in the interest of the justice system to revert back to civil courts as a number of convicts have not been given a fair trial and the decisions have been overturned by the apex court."

Jibran recommended the same procedure.

Gul underscored that the government as a civilian entity and democratic force should not seek an extension of the military courts rather revise existing legal remedies for counter-terrorism. "Reinforce the anti-terrorism courts. At present we have some 52 ATCs – perhaps their number should be increased. They should be provided with strict security – similar to that offered to military courts."

Story by: Hasnaat Malik, Waqas Ahmed, Umer Farooq and Niha Dagia

Produced by: Rahima Sohail

Design: Ibrahim Yahya

It was pain; she suppressed the twinge. It had come to her first a few years after they had left Italy to emigrate to America and settle at last in Sulaco after wandering from town to town, trying shopkeeping in a small way here and there; and once an organized enterprise of fishing—in Maldonado—for Giorgio, like the great Garibaldi, had been a sailor in his time.

Sometimes she had no patience with pain. For years its gnawing had been part of the landscape embracing the glitter of the harbour under the wooded spurs of the range; and the sunshine itself was heavy and dull—heavy with pain—not like the sunshine of her girlhood, in which middle-aged Giorgio had wooed her gravely and passionately on the shores of the gulf of Spezzia.

You go in at once, Giorgio

“You go in at once, Giorgio,” she directed. “One would think you do not wish to have any pity on me—with four Signori Inglesi staying in the house.” “Va bene, va bene,” Giorgio would mutter. He obeyed. The Signori Inglesi would require their midday meal presently. He had been one of the immortal and invincible band of liberators who had made the mercenaries of tyranny fly like chaff before a hurricane, “un uragano terribile.” But that was before he was married and had children; and before tyranny had reared its head again amongst the traitors who had imprisoned Garibaldi, his hero.