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The Rise of Pakistan’s Drones: How They Are Changing the Game in Kashmir, India and the South Asian region


India witnessed a significant drone attack at the Air Force Station in Jammu on June 27, 2021. The airbase, which is 14 km away from the India-Pakistan border, was attacked by lowflying drones that dropped two improvised explosive devices (IEDs). One IED exploded on the roof of the building, and the other in an open area.

Reports suggest that the drone incursions across the border have intensified since then. Drone sightings have increased manifold along the India–Pakistan international border and along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir.

India’s Border Security Force (BSF), which guards the international border on the Indian side, reported more than 268 drone sightings in 2022, compared to 109 in 2021 and 49 in 2020.

The rapid growth in drone sightings suggests that drones have emerged as a new strategic tool used by Pakistan to gain an advantage in the border conflict with India. Drones are also increasingly a tool of choice for transborder terrorist organizations and Pakistan-backed proxies in India.

Pakistan has been developing and deploying these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones for various purposes, including military operations, intelligence gathering, and cross-border smuggling. Pakistan claims to have the fourth-largest drone arsenal in the world, after the US, UK, and Israel.

The Origins of Pakistan’s Drone Program

Pakistan’s drone program can be traced back to 2009, when it created its first indigenous drone, the Burraq. The Burraq was designed to carry a 50 kg payload and had a range of 200 km. Pakistan aims to used the Burraq for surveillance and reconnaissance missions. In 2015, Pakistan became the fourth country in the world to successfully deploy an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) in an active operation. The UCAV was called the Bayraktar-1 TBK and was developed by Turkey. The Bayraktar-1 TBK had a range of 300 km and could carry a 500 kg payload. It could also perform precision strikes on ground targets with a laser-guided weapon system. Pakistan has since upgraded its Bayraktar-1 TBK with new features such as improved avionics, navigation systems, and weapons. Pakistan has also deployed several UCAVs for combat operations against the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan’s Shawal Valley.

The Current Status of Pakistan’s Drone Program

Pakistan has been investing significantly in UAVs for both military and civilian purposes. According to a senior researcher associated with the Rawalpindi Based Online Strategic Think Tank, Global Defense Insight, both the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Navy have been benefiting from this. The Pakistan Navy is already operating several UAVs for surveillance such as the Scan Eagle and Uqab.

Reports suggest Pakistan has also set up six drone centres across the border to smuggle arms and drugs into India through Punjab province. These drone centres are allegedly operated by Pakistani Rangers in collaboration with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Pakistani Drones Cross-border Terrorism and Smuggling

Drones flown out of Pakistan have also been used to target Indian military installations and civilians in Kashmir. In June 2021, a drone attack on an Indian Air Force station in Jammu was claimed by Pakistani non-state actors as retaliation for India’s surgical strikes on terrorist camps across the Line of Control (LOC) in February 2019. This was the first instance of drones being used to target military installations in India.

Pakistan’s drone smuggling is not only a way of providing arms and drugs to its proxies in India, but also a way of destabilizing India and undermining its security. Pakistan wants to create chaos and violence in India by fueling the insurgency in Kashmir and Punjab, where it has been supporting various militant groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen, and others. Pakistan also wants to weaken India’s economy and society by spreading narcotics and weapons among the youth, who are then recruited or coerced into joining terrorist organizations. Pakistan’s drone smuggling is also a sign of its desperation and frustration in the face of India’s counter-terrorism efforts.

Pakistan has also been facing international pressure and sanctions for its role in sponsoring terrorism so Islamabad’s drone smuggling is therefore a desperate attempt to regain some leverage and influence over India by using its proxy war tactics.

The Implications and Future of Pakistan’s Drone Program

Pakistan’s drone program poses a serious threat to South Asia’s regional security. Drones can be used for both kinetic operations – attacks in military and civilian spaces – and non-kinetic operations – smuggling of counterfeit currency, drugs, small arms, and ammunition across the border. Drones can also be used for long-range precision strikes that reduce close combat on the battlefield and avoid human losses.

Pakistan’s drone program is a growing threat that requires constant international vigilance. Drones are not only a tool of war but also a tool of terror that can cause immense damage to lives and property. Pakistan needs to cooperate with its neighbors to prevent escalation of violence in South Asia.

Pakistan’s drone program is likely to continue growing as the country is reportedly planning to acquire more advanced drones from China such as Wing Loong-II Unmanned Aerial Vehicles which have long-range strike capability with a satellite link. Pakistan is also reportedly planning to co-produce Anka combat drones with Turkey which are considered Turkey’s most advanced drones to date.




Pakistan is grappling with a mounting surge of digital hate and extremism, primarily manifesting on social media platforms. In response, the Violent Extremism Prevention Unit (VEPU) of Islamabad Police has identified more than 700 accounts responsible for propagating religious and terrorism-related content on various social media platforms in the last six months. VEPU has been established in 2023 to combat this menace and has intensified its efforts under the leadership of Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan, Islamabad Capital City Police Officer. Their crackdown targets religious, sectarian, and linguistic hatred in collaboration with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has blocked more than 200 accounts. It’s shocking to observe that online hate speech in Pakistan has increased 400-fold, involving racism, xenophobia, gender-based hatred, and religious intolerance, often conveyed through memes, text, images, and videos. Pakistani social media is marred by faith-based hate, particularly targeting Sikhs, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, Shias, and others. A June 2023 survey found that 92% encountered online hate content, with victims reaching 51%. Hate speech primarily targets Jews, Americans, Indians, Afghans, women (56%), Shias (70%), and Ahmadis (61%). Shockingly, instances of hate-driven violence persist. Pakistan now faces a fresh wave of digital hate following the removal of Imran Khan, yet lacks a comprehensive strategy to counter misinformation and polarization. This underscores the crucial role of social media in shaping political narratives and highlights the urgent need to address and mitigate the pervasive online hate, which poses a significant threat to Pakistan’s social harmony and political stability.

The Violent Extremism Prevention Unit (VEPU) of Islamabad Police has identified more than 700 accounts on X (Twitter), Facebook and other social media platforms spreading religious, terrorism-related material in the last six months. VEPU was established this year (2023) to act against hate propagation on social media. On the directions of Islamabad Capital City Police Officer (ICCPO) Dr Akbar Nasir Khan, the unit has intensified its crackdown on social media platforms to combat the spread of religious, sectarian, linguistic hatred and propaganda against institutions, a police spokesperson said. Moreover, the unit has written to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take steps for closure of the accounts among which more than 200 have been blocked. According to leading international human rights organization, Minority Rights Group, there has been a 400-fold increase in the use of hate terms online in Pakistan between 2011 and 2021.

Digital/Online hate refers to any form of hate speech or discriminatory behaviour that takes place on online platforms, including messaging apps, social media, and online forums. Digital technologies are purported to propagate bigotry, hate speech, and intolerance for some specific purposes. It takes different forms, including racism, xenophobia, gender hatred, sexism, sectarian and religious intolerance. Digital hate can be expressed in various ways, such as memes, text, images, and videos. Unfortunately, Pakistani social media is filled with faith-based hate and dangerous messages directed towards Sikhs, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, Shias and other faiths.

In addition, Pakistani Twitter (now, X) space is full of spiteful and dangerous words like Murtad, Fitna, Wajib-ul-Qatal (deserving to be killed), Kafir (infidel) etc. targeting religious minorities. Among the provinces, Punjab tops the list of hate speech, Rawalpindi with significant prominence, followed by Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, and Quetta.

When it comes to online spaces where more and more people are joining diverse social media platforms to express their views and share their opinions (or those of others whom they support), these above mentioned labels, titles and stereotypes get enormously amplified, appealing widespread attention across whole communities. Furthermore, as reported in the month of June, 2023, the online hate speech report survey in Pakistan found that 92 per cent of respondents have come across such content online, and 51 per cent have been the target of it. Much of the hate speech identified by the report is religiously and culturally motivated, with 57 per cent of respondents saying they had come across hate speech directed at Jews; 51 per cent witnessing hate speech directed at Americans and 51 per cent against Indians; 38 per cent against Pakistanis especially minorities and marginalized and 24 per cent against “other westerners” with Afghans close behind at 20 per cent.

Religious minorities, women, politicians and members of the media were also in the firing line. In particular, 56 per cent of people had come across hate speech directed at women. 70 per cent saw Shias become targets on social media, and 61 per cent witnessed Ahmadis take the brunt. Few instances are as followed: In October, 2022, a handicapped man was set on fire in Ghotki, Pakistan. When the victim jumped into a nearby pond to extinguish fire, the attacker, apparently a student of a religious seminary, followed him, strangling him to death. The reason, according to media reports, were accusations of blasphemy. The video of the killing went viral online. In May 2020, rumours circulated that an Ahmadi representative was to be included in the National Minority Commission by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, however the then government denied this report after a widespread public and political outrage, including from senior government officials, who publicly expressed hate against the Ahmadi community on Tweeter, and Facebook. In July 2020, Tahir Ahmed Naseem, member of a religious minority, was fatally shot at his own trial in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by a teenager, when a video of him declaring himself to be a prophet was circulated on social media. During March- April 2020, in the first five weeks of lockdown alone, there were at least 12 anti-Ahmadi trending hashtags on Pakistani Twitter. In a single day in August 2020, there were nearly 200,000 hate-filled tweets against Ahmadis.

Earlier, in 2018, Pakistan launched a smartphone application that allowed its citizens to anonymously report extremist, radical or sectarian-based hate content to the relevant authorities. The app named Chaukas (vigilant) was created by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), for devising counterterrorism strategies, and was made available on both Android and iOS systems. Chaukas was developed under NACTA’s larger Tat’heer (to sanitize) online portal and aimed at combating cyberextremism and hate content in Pakistan. However, as reported on February 17, 2022, at least 62 people have been imprisoned in cases pertaining to hate speech on social media since 2015, as per a report submitted to the Supreme Court by the Punjab government on minorities’ rights. The law enforcement agencies had registered 99 cases regarding hate speech over the past seven years, in which 101 arrests were made. At least 11 people were acquitted while 62 were convicted in these cases, it added. In Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) is known for its notorious use of various social media platform to gather huge and violent mass for political protests and rallies. The TLP has tactically employed YouTube for political and religious outreach, to stay linked and reach out to its base to join ranks during protests, frequently taking a vicious course. Beyond YouTube, the TLP has also trusted on Twitter and Facebook. During the violent protests in October 2021 it created trending content over Twitter, often amplified with aid from trolls, without much action from platforms to remove such content.

In past few months, Pakistan is also facing a new wave of digital hate after the removal of former Prime Minister Iman Khan. However, Pakistan lacks an institutional mechanism to watch, study and counter this digital assault, misinformation, and polarisation endeavours by centrifugal forces within the country. Earlier, in 2018 elections of Pakistan, social media tools were used as a primary source of political campaign by the parties and their supporters. For instance, PML-N raised the slogans of “Mujhay Kion Nikala” “Khalai Makhlooq” and “Vote Ko Izzat Do” on Facebook and Twitter. Implicitly, these slogans were labeled as expressions of resistance against the military establishment and as a narrative supporting the claim that the former prime minister’s removal was orchestrated, purportedly involving the military. In contrast, PTI championed the slogan of “change,” captivating Pakistan’s youthful populace, who are adept in the realm of social media. This proficiency in digital platforms enabled PTI to amass substantial support. It is an undeniable reality that both PML-N and PTI engaged vigorously in steering trends and disseminating viral video clips, either in their favor or to discredit their political adversaries. Unfortunately, Pakistani society and politics have harnessed the formidable power of social media as a tool to promote their own agendas and propagate hatred against political rivals, as well as individuals of different religions, sects, or ideologies.

In conclusion, Pakistan confronts a significant challenge through the rise of digital hate and extremism, largely propagated via social media. This divisive trend undermines social cohesion and political stability, necessitating a robust response. The Violent Extremism Prevention Unit (VEPU) is a vital step in countering this menace. However, a comprehensive strategy is needed to address the deep-rooted issue of online hatred. It is imperative for stakeholders to collaboratively work towards shaping a positive digital discourse for Pakistan’s future, fostering an environment that promotes tolerance, diversity, and constructive dialogue that will ensure unity, harmony, and progress in the society and political arena for lasting peace and prosperity.

Originally published here.

“Perils of Hope: Unraveling Pakistan’s Human Trafficking Web and Its Deadly Consequences”


On 14 June 2023, an Italy-bound rusty, aging, overloaded fishing trawler smuggling migrants sank in international waters in the part of the Mediterranean known as the Ionian Sea, off the coast of Pylos, Messenia, Greece. The boat, which had a capacity of 400 people carried an estimated 400 to 750 migrants, mostly from Pakistan, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, and some from Afghanistan.
According to testimonies told by survivors, Pakistanis were allegedly forced below deck, with other nationalities allowed on the top deck, where they had a far greater chance of surviving a capsize. Pakistan’s then Interior Minister, Rana Sanaullah, said that there were at least 350 Pakistani victims on the overloaded vessel.
Human trafficking is a grave issue that plagues many nations across the globe, with Pakistan being no exception. This illicit trade in human lives not only robs individuals of their basic rights and dignity but also exposes them to unimaginable risks and dangers.
In Pakistan, the unholy alliance between human traffickers and corrupt government officers has allowed this menace to persist, causing widespread suffering and loss of life.

The Corrupt Nexus
At the heart of Pakistan’s human trafficking problem lies a distressing and intricate nexus between human traffickers and certain officials within government agencies, most notably the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). This collusion not only allows the human trafficking network to thrive but also undermines the very institutions that are supposed to protect citizens.

The Federal Investigation Agency, entrusted with maintaining law and order, combating transnational crime, and safeguarding national security, has, in some instances, been compromised by corruption. Within its ranks, some individuals have allegedly formed alliances with human traffickers, either through accepting bribes or actively participating in trafficking operations. These rogue elements exploit their positions to facilitate the movement of victims, providing cover and information to traffickers to avoid detection.

It is believed that these compromised FIA officials aid traffickers by tipping them off about impending raids or investigations, allowing traffickers to evade capture and continue their illegal activities. This not only erodes public trust in law enforcement but also perpetuates a culture of impunity, emboldening traffickers to operate with little fear of consequences.

Moreover, the connection between corrupt officials and human traffickers has far-reaching consequences, as it extends beyond individual acts of bribery. These officials often protect and shield traffickers from prosecution, creating an environment where the criminal networks can operate without fear of being brought to justice. This further exacerbates the suffering of victims who are left vulnerable and unsupported, unable to escape the clutches of their exploiters.

Tragedy on the High Seas
One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of the human trafficking issue in Pakistan is the perilous journey many Pakistanis undertake to cross the sea into Europe. Driven by desperation and the hope for a better life, they board overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels, often at the mercy of human traffickers who care more about profit than human lives. Tragedies have struck far too frequently, with boats capsizing and lives lost. The media has documented several instances of such accidents, serving as a painful reminder of the risks involved.

Other recent instances of Pakistani migrants losing their lives
– In 2014, a boat carrying over 500 migrants, mostly Pakistanis, capsized off the coast of Malta, resulting in the deaths of more than 300 people. This incident highlighted the severity of the problem and the need for concerted action.
– Another tragic event occurred in 2020 when a boat carrying migrants from Pakistan and other countries capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. Survivors recounted tales of horror and despair, shedding light on the desperation that drives people to undertake such treacherous journeys.

Violations of International Laws
Pakistan’s failure to effectively combat human trafficking also raises concerns about its compliance with international laws and agreements. The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, to which Pakistan is a signatory, calls for measures to prevent and combat trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers. By allowing human trafficking to persist, Pakistan is in breach of its international obligations and exposes its citizens to grave risks.

The issue of human trafficking in Pakistan is a multi-faceted problem that requires immediate and sustained action. Tackling this crisis demands a comprehensive approach that involves not only law enforcement efforts but also initiatives to address the root causes of trafficking, such as poverty and lack of opportunities. The corruption within government ranks must be addressed to sever the ties that sustain this illicit trade. The urgent need to root out corruption within law enforcement agencies and sever their ties with criminal networks cannot be overstated. Addressing this issue is pivotal in breaking the chains of human trafficking and creating a safer future for the citizens of Pakistan. Furthermore, international cooperation is essential to hold Pakistan accountable for its failure to uphold its obligations under international law. Only through such concerted efforts can the lives of countless Pakistanis be safeguarded from the clutches of human traffickers and their dangerous journeys to Europe come to an end.

Why is Gilgit Baltistan protesting against Pakistan’s independence day?


Gilgit Baltistan has been rocked by new protests on this independence day of Pakistan this year to mark a black day as the people of Gilgit Baltistan call Pakistan an occupying force in the region. The issue of protests in Gilgit Baltistan against Pakistani occupation is complex and rooted in historical, political, and cultural factors. Here are some key factors that have contributed to protests in Gilgit Baltistan against what some consider as Pakistani occupation:

1. Historical Background: Gilgit Baltistan has a unique history. The region was historically part of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. When British colonial rule ended in 1947, the princely states were given the choice to join either India or Pakistan. Gilgit Baltistan’s status remained uncertain, and its local leaders at the time sought to accede to Pakistan. But Pakistan forced it to accede to the country, and this decision has been contested, as some argue that the region’s predominantly Muslim population should have had the right to self-determination.

2. Lack of Political Representation: One of the main grievances expressed by protesters is the limited political representation and autonomy for the people of Gilgit Baltistan. Despite being governed by Pakistan, the region does not have full provincial status within Pakistan and does not have representation in the national parliament. This lack of representation has fueled demands for greater political rights.

3. Resource Exploitation: Gilgit Baltistan is rich in natural resources, including minerals, water resources, and hydroelectric potential. Some locals feel that the region’s resources are being exploited for the benefit of Pakistan without adequate benefits trickling down to the local population. This economic disparity has led to resentment and protests. There are also accusations of allowing China to exploit the region’s resources, without any reinvestments for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.

4. Human Rights Concerns: Human rights issues, such as alleged military presence, enforced disappearances, and limitations on freedom of expression, have also fueled protests. Some locals feel that their rights are being curtailed under Pakistani control.

5. Cultural Identity: The region has a distinct cultural identity, with its own languages, traditions, and way of life. Some protesters argue that their cultural identity is being undermined by the Pakistani government’s policies, and they seek greater recognition and preservation of their cultural heritage.

6. Geostrategic Importance: Gilgit Baltistan’s strategic location is of significance due to its proximity to China and its role in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major infrastructure project aimed at connecting Gwadar Port in Pakistan to China’s Xinjiang region. Some protesters are concerned about the environmental and social impact of such projects on their region.


Pakistan violates FATF conditions. Is it liable to be sanctioned again?


Pakistan has failed to stop terrorist organisations from using their Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) to raise and transfer funds for keeping them operational despite promises to the global anti-terrorist financing watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), last year. The Paris-based organization FATF had removed Pakistan from its greylist on the basis of several promises made by the state in checking the financial network of various militant groups.

The most glaring instance is that of global terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), its parent body, Jamaat-ud Dawa and various outfits allied to the group. For instance, the political front of the group, Pakistan Markazi Muslim League (PMML), is active with rallies and events in different parts of Pakistan despite the ban on its parent organisation. On May 28, the group held a massive rally at Nishan-e-Pakistan monument to observe Youm-e-Takbir, celebrated as a national day in Pakistan in commemoration of the 1998 nuclear tests. In August, various units of the party held public demonstrations in Karachi and Lahore against rise in petrol prices. These events show how the affiliated groups of the proscribed terrorist organisation, JuD, continues to operate quite freely in Pakistan.

A gaping hole in the new federal budget provisions has also raised serious concerns about Pakistan’s actions to contain terrorist financing. The budget contains a new tax amnesty scheme allowing foreign currency up to US$ 100,000/- to be brought back into Pakistan without any source or proof of income to be presented. This provision was introduced to shore up the declining forex reserves of the country. But it also offers unscrupulous elements, terror organisations and financiers an easy route to bring in funds for terror purposes and launder them into white money. This is a clear and fundamental violation of the Immediate Outcome-10 of the FATF.

Some of these findings form part of National Residual Risk Assessment (NRRA) 2022 completed by the Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) of Pakistan. The investigation identified deficiencies in the implementation of UNSCR 1267 sanctions regime in Pakistan.

A key finding of the report is the absence of adequate federal oversight on the implementation of Targeted Financial Sanctions (TFS) against domestically proscribed entities or individuals and legal gaps related to dual- listed persons/entities, who are listed under both UNSCR 1267 and UNSCR 1373 regimes.

The investigation found that there was no inspection or verification mechanism regime at the provincial level with respect to seizure of assets. There are legislative gaps regarding transfer of legal titles of seized assets from proscribed entities and as a result original owners can legally claim the seized assets on the basis of their legal ownership of these assets once they are delisted. There were serious lacunae in implementing travel bans on designated persons with dual-residence status. These are persons on the UN Designated Persons (UNDP) on the Taliban (UNSC 1988) Sanctions List. The Ministry of Interior, a key agency of the federal government to list or delist entities on the First Schedule of the Anti-Terror Act, 1997, lacks any oversight mechanism on the listed entities. The Ministry has rarely investigated any systematic or regular review of the oversight regime except some piecemeal actions.

The report also highlights questions raised by the higher judiciary on the integrity and transparency of domestic proscription criteria by the District Level Committees and Home Departments.

In light of these glaring violations, will the FATF sanction Pakistan again?

#Rigging101: How the Pakistani military ensures elections are never free or fair in the country?


As Pakistani elections loom, the country’s terror networks – many with links to the Pakistani military – are attacking politicians with deadly bombings.

Since the restoration of democracy in Pakistan in 2008, the country has gone through three elections that I have covered and yet many agree today that these elections have never been free or fair and it is far from being a democracy. Pakistan, run by its military generals in the shadows, continues to be managed through a hybrid regime, since the last 5 years when the former Prime Minister Imran Khan was selected to run the country by the so-called Pakistani establishment, a euphemism used by the Pakistani media, which is not allowed to openly discuss military affairs.

However, it is not just about managing the country, but also managing the elections. Since 2008, the military has used different methods to try to ensure that the election are not indepedent of their influence and one of the most convenient method the generals use is to ensure rigging on the day of the vote, with fudging the count. Given the military is the one providing “security” for the polls, it can be a relatively easy task. However, such direct rigging has its disadvantages as there are many local and international electoral watchdog organizations that may raise the alarm. So the military has to opt for other methods – mostly focusing on pre-poll rigging.

I remember meeting an intelligence official for a story I was working on, in the run up to the 2013 Pakistani general elections. While I was in his office, I saw him receiving phone calls from local Pakistani politicians, asking which political party was “the military’s horse to bet on“ so that they seek the ticket for that particular party. This is perhaps the easiest way to ensure that politicians echo the interests of the military. Why would a politician seek a military official’s advice? I asked. The official just smiled in response.

Another method that the Pakistani military employs to influence elections is by using coercion to change party loyalties. As we remember, in the 2018 elections run up, “the agriculture department” pseudonym came up, as reports of a local Pakistani politician being beaten up emerged. At first he blamed the military for the attack, and then later backtracked saying it was the agriculture department officials who had come to collect taxes from him and that turned into a scuffle.

But one of the most deadly methods that the Pakistan army employs is the unleashing of terror groups that it has known and hidden links with, and it appears that in the run up of the next upcoming elections – this may become a tactic widely used by the military. And it will not be the first time. The military used this pre-poll rigging method in 2013, when terror attacks during mainstream political rallies became a norm, forcing many of these parties which may have posed a challenge to the military power, abandon their campaigns. I witnessed the same in the 2008 elections, albeit at a lower frequency.

The recent suicide bombing that killed 44 people at a rally of the pro-Islamist political group – JUI-F (which itself has close links to extremist groups invovled such terror attacks) is a message to the Pakistani politicians to behave. By attacking the most visibly religious of them all, the military is saying that none will be spared if they fall out of line.

Another interpretation of the situation is that the military is doing this to ensure that the upcoming election is delayed and it manages the country through the caretaker setup which will be taking power next month. The military is suggesting to put a technocrat in-charge of this temporary setup so that it can easily manipulate the person and force a delay. Whatever the case be, it appears that the military is once again hell bent on ensuring that the elections are not independent, and its hold over Pakistan remains strong.




Pakistan denied entry to one of the world’s largest air shows in France


Pakistan was denied entry and was not sent an invitation to the world’s largest and most well-known airshow in Paris according to insider reports. The show which went on from June 19th to June 26th at Le Bourget Aerodrom near Paris had several prestigious countries including India from South Asia, while Pakistan which has been invited in the past, lost a spot this year.

Pakistan was invited in the past, and even claimed to receive special attention in the past as it unveiled Pakistani fighter jet JF-17 in 2019, but this time around, Islamabad could not even get an invitation.

It is unclear on what grounds Pakistan was denied entry, but it is a known fact that Pak-French relations have nosedived in the last few years given Pakistan’s attacks against the French President Emmanuel Macron, given his support to the supposedly blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammad published in France by Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, that was attacked in 2015 by terrorists killing 12 people.

The Paris Air Show has been a major platform for Pakistan defence forces eager to find buyers for its many joint productions, like the JF-17 Thunder fighters.

Pakistan Aeronautical Industries had booked space at the show in Hall 5 Stall C 223. Three Chinese-Pakistan-made JF-17 Thunder Fighters were to be placed for a sales exhibit.

Some media reports suggest two reasons for the French authorities cancelling the Pakistani exhibit. Reportedly, the star exhibit, the joint China-Pak combat aircraft, JF 17, has had serious failures in its systems including the engine, airframe and avionics. Also, when China and Pakistan signed the agreement on joint production of the JF-17 in 1999, it was touted as a combat jet comparable to Mig-29 and Mirage-2000. But those claims came to nought as the single-engine flying aircraft had experienced repeated failures and poor reliability since its inception. A large number of engines have developed cracks on engine guide vanes, exhaust nozzle and frame stabiliser. In fact, the engine problem bedevilling the JF 17 has become more complicated with China finding it difficult to access spare parts and other assistance from Russia due to sanctions. Another persistent criticisms levelled against the RD-93 aero engine has been its propensity to emit black smoke which made it an easy target for the enemy pilot. It put the JF 17 pilot at a disadvantage during close aerial combat, the principle reason for the JF 17 induction into the Pakistan Air Force.

Another possible reason reportedly for the cancellation is Pakistan’s non-payment of dues to the air show organisers.

The 54th edition of the prestigious air show was being held for the first time after the cancellation of the show due to Covid in 2019. More than 2,500 companies presented aircraft parts and production equipment, spacecraft, satellites and telecommunications, engineering and maintenance. The show is known as a premier platform for aviation decision-makers to interact.

Is the far-left in France apologist to the Islamist cause and Muslim countries?


The political far left in France has been often accused of being apologist to Islamist groups and countries. An example of this nexus between Islamists and the far left came to light in the last election, where according to a report published by Europe 1, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the candidate of France Insoumis (the largest far left political party of France) benefited from a large part of the Muslim electorate, owing to the support of several Islamist activists, as per an intelligence assessment.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon was considered “the least bad candidate” and in this intelligence document that Europe 1 was able to obtain, such pro Mélenchon Islamist propaganda was spread by two preachers close to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the French media.

But Mélenchon being supported by Islamist groups is not a one-way traffic. The France Insoumis chief is also known for rallying in support of Islamist groups, like he did in 2019, when he participated in a controversial anti Islamophobia rally in Paris. Most French political parties stayed away from the gathering given its criticism of French laws of secularism. One of the main organizers of the rally – the Collective Against Islamophobia in France has also been accused to having links to Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, a claim the CCIF denies. The CCIF was disbanded by the French government in 2020, after it was put on a watchlist following the shocking murder of Samuel Paty, the French teacher who was murdered by a Islamist fanatic for allegedly showing caricatures of Mohammad, the prophet of Islam.

Highly placed sources also suggest that in recent months, the political Islamist ideological groups and governments of Muslim majority countries like Pakistan, have tried to make further inroads into the far-left political groups as they know the far-left have sympathies for Islamic ideologies. The French far-left must not be swayed by such messaging, especially given that many of these Muslim groups and countries do not adhere to any international human rights laws when it comes to freedom of expression, association and religion, unlike the French state which upholds these values dearly.

Pakistani PM Shahbaz Sharif’s fails to gather support for country at the Paris Summit


Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif was in Paris for the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact, where he was to appeal on behalf of Pakistan to raise funds for the country. However, insider sources say that he was unable to secure any concrete funding, and instead was only offered loans to alleviate the ailing Pakistani economy, which is on the brink of collapse.

Owing to this indifference from the West, Pakistani PM lashed out at them during his speech.

“Global lenders would spend billions on war but only offer loans to flood-ravaged Pakistan,” he said.

“On one hand, you are ready to provide everything for the defence of a country or countries — that is perfectly okay — but when it comes to the question of saving thousands and thousands of people from dying, then [one has] to borrow money at a very high cost. Then you have to beg and borrow and further deteriorate your already very precarious financial situation,” Sharif further added.

The Pakistani delegation that comprised of the State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar also tried to meet with several country heads to attract investments into Pakistan but did not receive a positive response.

A meeting between Pakistani PM Shebaz Sharif and the Managing Director for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the sidelines of the summit is yet to produce any results, but sources say that Pakistan was asked by the IMF officials to implement certain financial measures before the international body could release the promised loans.

Pakistan is hoping to unlock a $6 billion bailout and gain the release of a critical tranche of $1.1 billion in loans which has been on hold since November.

Thursday’s meeting between the IMF and Pakistan came a week after the IMF slammed a proposed annual budget presented to parliament by Pakistan’s government. Esther Perez Ruiz, IMF’s representative for Pakistan, said in a statement that the draft budget failed to implement a fairer tax system as promised in the bailout agreement.

Pakistani government bows down to Islamist extremist group TLP. Signs agreement. Sets up Counter Blasphemy Wing.


The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a radical Islamist extremist group has gained further political capital in the country as the federal government over the last weekend agreed to issue a letter declaring that the TLP was not a terrorist organisation.

It would be further acknowledged in the letter that it was a political party registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and, therefore, there is no ban on its coverage in the media and it will have complete freedom for political activities just like other political parties.

The ruling alliance also agreed with the TLP’s leadership to quash all “political cases” registered against the party leaders and workers after the party announced ending its Pakistan Bachao March (Save Pakistan March).

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Economic Affairs Minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq signed the agreement with the TLP’s key leaders, Dr Muhammad Shafique Amini and Allama Ghulam Abbas Faizi. The announcement about signing of the agreement and ending the march was made in a joint news conference on Saturday afternoon.

Through the agreement, the federal ministers have agreed that all the notifications issued against the TLP by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in the past would be de-notified.

Moreover, the government would lift a ban from all those TLP leaders and workers who have already been excluded from the 4th scheduled list, saying the federal government will also issue directions to the provincial governments in this regard.

Under the newly-signed agreement, it has been decided that the government would write a letter to the US government in three working days for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who has been serving a sentence in US on charges of attempting to kill American nationals outside the country. The government gave its consent that it would take serious steps to bring Dr Siddiqui back to Pakistan.

Among other things, the agreement states that Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, would be applicable on the suspects facing charges of committing blasphemy under section 295-C (use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet:) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

In addition, both sides have agreed to establish a “Counter Blasphemy Wing” under the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The wing is being established with the aim to increase and enhance the capacity of the institution already working and to stop desecration of the religious materials.

The government has agreed with TLP that a filtration system would be enforced through which blasphemous material and immoral content would be removed from social media. Both sides also agreed to ensure unbiased but speedy trial of the accused facing charges of blasphemy, saying the appeals would also be swiftly decided.

Source: Pakistan local media