Home Blog Page 2

Did Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif get snubbed in Turkiye at the oath-taking ceremony of President Erdoğan?


According to insider reports, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry has expressed concerns that the Turkish side did not accord the level of importance expected for Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during his recent visit to that country to attend the swearing-in of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Sharif was not placed in the first row with important dignitaries and instead seated on the second row.

Analysts say that the frequency with which Sharif travels to Turkey could be the reason for the Turkish government not giving him the protocol expected for a PM, and not taking him seriously any more.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently won Turkey’s presidential election, defeating opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in a runoff vote, stretching his rule into a third decade.

Further, several newspapers also reported the fact that the Pakistani PM faced an embarrassing situation when his attempt to hug the Turkish President was not reciprocated during his visit.

This drama was captured on camera and the viral video is making the rounds on social media showing Sharif reaching out to embrace his Turkish counterpart, but Erdogan, for reasons unknown, denied the gesture of friendship.

This embarassment comes a few months after Ankara reportedly also refused to host Pakistani PM Sharif when he wanted to visit the country during the recent earthquake disaster.

The denial to host was followed by further controversy as the Pakistani government had repackaged the aid it had received from Turkey during the 2022 floods and delivered it back as earthquake relief material to the disaster-struck country. The Turkish authorities, upon opening the relief material found it had the message they had written for the Pakistani flood victims last year. The Turkish relief material was delivered to Sindh, a southwestern region of Pakistan which was one of the worst-hit areas due to the flood, according to Pakistani media reports. It appears, the same package was repurposed, repackaged and delivered to Ankara.

A rising and worrying trend in attacks against Chinese nationals in Pakistan: Exclusive Report


Pakistan-China partnership has existed for decades and since 2014, with the announcement of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), for which China wants to invest more than $46 billion in the country, it has further strengthened. 

But in recent years, this cooperation has come under a lot of strain due to increasing attacks against Chinese nationals in Pakistan.

The main responsibility of these attacks has been largely attributed to Baloch separatists from the Balochistan province, which has seen an insurgency since the inception of Pakistan, as the Baloch claim Pakistan to be an occupying force, with China now helping the Pakistani occupiers financially. China is heavily invested in this region as it provides Beijing access to the Indian Ocean, where it wants to expand its strategic military interests.   

But the Baloch separatist attacks are not the only cause of concern for the Chinese as now Chinese nationals are facing the wrath of common radicalized Pakistani Muslims. Last month, the Pakistani police was forced to arrest a Chinese national on blasphemy charges after he allegedly insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. Under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws, a conviction for the offense carries the death penalty.

As per media reports, police identified the man only as Mr. Tian from China and said he was arrested, hours after hundreds of residents and laborers working on a dam project blocked a key highway and rallied to demand his arrest.

According to the police, the accusations arose from a workplace disagreement: Tian allegedly became upset and reprimanded two local drivers for taking too much time from work to pray. Other laborers then claimed he had insulted the prophet.

Already, the work on this dam called Dasu had faced suspension since July 2021, following a deadly suicide attack targeting a bus carrying Chinese and Pakistani nationals in Kohistan district, where the dam is located. The bombing killed 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals.

The Chinese resumed work on the project last year, when Pakistan enhanced security. Pakistani and Chinese engineers are trying to complete the project by 2026.

However, with the issue of the blasphemy case now, the Chinese nationals working on the project have to be even more wary, especially since there are reports that the Pakistani authorities intervened to help the Chinese national escape prosecution, which is rare in blasphemy cases, given the potential public backlash. 


According to an international research report from 2007, targeted attacks against Chinese nationals even pre-date the CPEC project. Between 2004 and 2007 there were four such attacks, killing a number of Chinese nationals. The Pakistani government has repeatedly tried to blame a foreign hand in these attacks, but many Chinese scholars and officials do not subscribe to the ‘foreign hand’ perspective and consider home-grown terrorism and religious extremism within the country to be the causes of these attacks, as per the report.

Alarmingly, in recent years there has been a sharp increase in such onslaughts, with the attack last year in Karachi being one of the boldest against Chinese interests in the country when Shari Baloch, a 31-year-old mother of two, became the first woman to carry out a suicide bombing killing three Chinese citizens and their Pakistani driver in front of the Confucius Institute in the city.

Karachi has seen several more such attacks against Chinese nationals with the most recent one being in September last year, when a man posing as a patient in a dental clinic run by Chinese nationals opened fire at them, killing one and injuring two other Chinese citizens. 

Also, last year in May, Pakistan caught another woman attacker who wanted to target a Chinese convoy, along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and recovering the explosive device, according to Pakistani media reports.

In 2019, the CPEC project saw another hit with Baloch separatists storming a five-star hotel in Pakistan‘s port city of Gwadar, killing at least five people. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), an ethnic Baloch separatist group fighting for independence for Balochistan province, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that four fighters were involved. 

“Our fighters have carried out this attack on Chinese and other foreign investors who were staying in PC hotel,” said Jihand Baloch, a BLA spokesperson, in a statement emailed to the media.

In 2018, again in the city of Karachi, three suicide attackers of the same Pakistani insurgent group the BLA stormed the Chinese consulate in the city, with the group releasing a statement after the attack stating that it had carried out the attack because “China is exploiting our resources.”

Reportedly, Beijing is becoming more concerned about such security threats to Belt and Road investment projects, which could jeopardize new investment and the completion of projects.

Pakistani authorities have tried to calm concerns of the Chinese government, but have also demanded more financial resources from Beijing to better secure Chinese interests. This has prompted some to wonder if Pakistan is allowing these attacks to happen, in order to profit from more Chinese investments into the security apparatus and infrastructure of the country, controlled by the Pakistani military, known for pocketing such gains.

How are Turkey and Pakistan linked to the Qatargate scandal?


A prominent Turkish human rights legal consultant who accused India of “war crimes against Kashmiri Muslims” admitted to paying one of the suspects in the European Parliament corruption scandal for “ethical lobbying services” according to media reports.

Hakan Camuz’s UK-based law firm Stoke White had last year filed lawsuits against key Indian officials, accusing them of “war crimes against Kashmiri Muslims”.

Following an investigation into alleged “war crimes in Jammu and Kashmir,” the firm filed a “legal appeal” with London’s Metropolitan Police against the Indian Army Chief and Home Minister.

Hakan Camuz alleged that two of his groups entered “consultancy contracts” with a company related to Francesco Giorgi, the assistant of Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former MEP at the centre of the corruption investigation, for what he felt were “parliamentary services”.

Camuz told media that he had only spoken with Giorgi and that he thought the company was authentic.

Camuz, who is not being investigated or accused of wrongdoing, stated that the agreed-upon “services” included coordinating meetings with other MEPs, public events in Brussels, parliamentary questions, and getting EU funds for his charitable projects.

According to evidence from the investigation, Giorgi admitted to assisting his boss in using a web of companies to mask payments from foreign governments including Qatar and Morocco.

Camuz, a lawyer with ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office, said he was “shocked and outraged” by the case and denied any knowledge of misconduct by Giorgi and Panzeri.

Last week, Italian prosecutors expanded the Belgian-led investigation into potential corruption by initiating a new money laundering investigation. Prosecutors are examining payments of around 300,000 euros made through a consultancy set up by Panzeri’s accountant into Italian bank accounts maintained at Intesa Sanpaolo.

According to a transcript of Giorgi’s statement to investigators, Panzeri and Giorgi’s accomplices in Italy allegedly set up the Milan-based company Equality Consultancy Srl as a vehicle for payments for their lobbying efforts.

The company was placed into liquidation at the end of 2020 and would be shut down in June 2021. Belgian police have charged Giorgi with corruption, money laundering, and involvement in a criminal organisation. After cooperating with authorities, he is now free with an electronic tag.

According to reports, Giorgi’s employer Panzeri, who has been imprisoned since December, agreed to a plea deal with Belgian authorities in February after admitting to receiving up to EUR 2.6 million in payments from the governments of Qatar, Morocco, and Mauritania between 2018 and 2022.

The Pakistan-Turkey Connection to Qatargate

Some years ago, reports indicated that Turkey and Pakistan had set up a special unit to carry out propaganda against India, especially on Jammu and Kashmir. Reporedly, this was a brainchild of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI. One instance of this concerted joint campaign became apparent in early 2021, when a UK-based firm filed a legal appeal in a UK court against India’s Home Minister and Army Chief for alleged war crimes in Jammu and Kashmir.

More recently, while the Qatargate scandal exposed the corruption of EU Parliamentarians by the Qatari regime involving bribe & money laundering of over €300,000, it is a lesser known fact that Hakan Camuz, a UK-based legal consultant of Turkish origin, was also indirectly involved in the scandal.

His firms, Stoke White (SW) and The Radiant Trust, paid Equality Consultancy, a company linked to #Qatargate suspects, ex-Member of European Parliament (MEP) Pier Antonio Panzeri and his assistant Francesco Giorgi, €75,000 for “ethical lobbying services.”

It’s the very same SW firm that had launched the attack against India in January 2021, accusing the Army of genocide in Kashmir based on an investigation by the Legal Forum for Oppressed Voices of Kashmir (LFOVK). LFOVK is another dubious entity allegedly run by a former Pakistani Judge Justice Ali Nawaz Chawhan and Advocate Nasir Qadri.

It was LFOVK which had started the Twitter trend “#arrestindianarmychief” crimes in Kashmir’ along with SW. The SW company, in a release, had then stated that it put up a “legal appeal” against the Indian Army chief, General M.M. Naravane and Home Minister Amit Shah to London’s Metropolitan Police and peddled the narrative of ‘war following an investigative report LFOVK by on “war crimes in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Nasir Qadri is the Founder and executive director of Legal Forum for Kashmir (LFK), earlier “Legal Forum for Oppressed Voices of Kashmir (LFOVK)”. He operates from Pakistan. Nasir has global connections and has visited Turkey frequently. Qadri has close links with the Jamaat-e- Islami and the ISPR, the Pakistan military‘s media wing.

Hakan Camuz already established connection to Turkey and his anti India and pro Pakistan lobbying efforts must be investigated as they appear to be a clear instance of how Pakistan and Turkey maybe conspiring against India, and even using European Parliamentarians, who now stand exposed and face corruption and bribery investigations.

Interestingly, the European Parliament sub committee on Human Rights took up the case of violations of human rights in Kashmir in 2019, while it was being headed by the very same EU parliamentarian Pier Antonio Panzeri, who was allegedly being bribed by Qatar, Morroco and other foreign powers at the same time.

UK MPs raise concerns over rights violations in Balochistan following campaign by exiled Baloch community: Report


UK Members of Parliament (MPs) have raised concerns over human rights violations in Balochistan, following a campaign by Baloch National Movement (BNM) to contact British MPs regarding the issue. According to a written question raised in the parliament on March 15th, a Labour MP asked for an update on the situation in Balochistan and the UK government’s steps to address the issue.

Labour Party MP Seema Malhotra’s question in the UK parliament regarding the adherence to human rights in Balochistan received a response from the Parliamentary Under Secretary Leo Docherty on behalf of Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs. In the written response, the government representative acknowledged that Pakistan is a human rights priority country for the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), and the UK regularly engages with the Pakistani government at a senior level to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law.

Furthermore, the response stated that the Minister for South Asia, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, discussed the human rights situation in Pakistan with the Minister for Human Rights, Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada, on January 30th.

The UK government’s response to Seema Malhotra’s question indicates that the issue of human rights violations in Balochistan is a matter of concern for the UK, and they are engaging with the Pakistani authorities to address the issue.

The Baloch National Movement’s campaign to contact MPs regarding the issue of human rights violations in Balochistan has gained significant momentum with the UK parliament raising the issue in a written question. The response from the parliamentary undersecretary indicates that the UK government is aware of the situation and is taking steps to engage with the Pakistani authorities to address the issue. The Baloch people and human rights organizations worldwide are hopeful that this development will lead to concrete actions being taken to ensure justice for the Baloch people.

Balochistan has been reportedly facing a brutal crackdown by the Pakistani authorities for decades, with enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and torture being common occurrences in the region. Various international organizations and countries have long been urging the Pakistani government to take steps to address the issue and ensure the protection of human rights in the region. The recent development in the UK parliament is expected to add further momentum to the global campaign for justice in Balochistan.

BNM, a pro-independence political organization representing the Baloch people, has been actively campaigning to raise awareness of human rights violations in Balochistan. The organization has been urging the international community to take notice of the situation and press the Pakistani authorities to end the violence and ensure justice for the Baloch people.

Source: The Balochistan Post

CPEC Spells Disaster for Pakistan’s Economy: Analysis


It will not be untrue to say that Pakistan is facing the worst meltdown since its existence. Security crisis, broken political system, flood tragedy and its domino effect on the environment, half-hearted projects like CPEC, and economic whirlpool, to name a few.

What makes the situation more problematic is the lack of concern of policymakers and higher echelons who are bent on saving PML-N’s political capital, which has taken precedence over the more necessary rescue of the country.

After giving up his obsession with keeping the rupee artificially raised and his pride high before the IMF, the country’s finance minister Ishaq Dar has finally come to terms with the situation at home.

Rumors in political circles of Islamabad suggest that the government has gone for debt restructuring, thereby declaring Pakistan as a defaulter.

Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahbaz Sharif’s recent meeting with an international financial firm suggests that this organization will be looking over debt restructuring operations. The process of setting up Pakistan’s budget and restructuring its loans will take two years. The lenders will be given special concessions by the nation for restructuring the repayments, increasing the gross debt of Pakistan. Down go the dreams of the “game-changing” CPEC project that was supposed to pave way for new industries, increase exports manifold, pay off debts, create new employment opportunities, and make Gwadar the Dubai 2.0.

Since 2013, $62 billion has been spent on CPEC. The Pak-China friendship is under strain. In difficult times, Chinese capitalism, as how capitalists are, has shown that they are about profit, not philanthropy. Quietly, the reports of Parliament and Senate committees on CPEC have been removed from government websites. Last year the public account committee held only two meetings on the subject.

If Pakistan goes for debt-structuring, China would either let this slip by or take up the matter at international tribunals. In any case, CPEC is under pressure due to two reasons: political chaos and security issues in Pakistan at the moment.

Though at the inaugural ceremony of nuclear power facility – K3 in Karachi, PM Shahbaz Sharif assured that CPEC projects from now onwards will be completed at pace, it hardly seems likely.

Political stability and a safe environment are necessary for the Chinese to operate. They are facing great resistance among the locals because Pakistan has given them free will to use and abuse local resources, putting in jeopardy the livelihood of the locals and degrading their environment, as they have in Balochistan, Gilit-Baltistan, and (so-called) Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-administered).

Last year a well-educated 30-year-old Baloch woman affiliated with the BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army) blew up herself along with three Chinese academicians and their Pakistani driver in Karachi.

Recently, in a protest held by Moulana Hidayatur Rehman at Gwadar outrightly threatened the Chinese to leave Gwadar. The Gwadar Rights Movement (GRM) under his leadership has been holding demonstrations against the Pakistan government because they are agitated that their concerns have been sidelined since the inception of the project. Even after being told they will be jailed, the protestors are maintaining their position. Some government officials have revealed China is on the brink of leaving Pakistan if this situation prolongs.

The GRM is fighting for a proper supply of water and electricity, safe drinking water, deep-sea fish trawling, healthcare, and education infrastructure, and jobs for local youth in CPEC – all of which were promised by China but never delivered. Environmental concerns due to mining and deforestation have added to the Baloch woes. Harassment of women at checkpoints and massive crackdowns on protestors which led to casualties, further added to the differences between the Chinese and the Balochis.

Given the situation, the Chinese will probably stop investing in future projects in Pakistan. And Phase 2 of CPEC will remain out of reach for a decade.

On the other hand, the IMF will not allow for decisions in favor of China as it has criticized the role of Chinese loans in third-world countries. And so the future of the relationship between the Chinese and Pakistan Army is skeptical. The government is trying hard to restore this trust. Though that will be a difficult job because no military exchanges are taking place between the two nations. The delay in delivery of the J-20 fighter jets to Pakistan from China is an indication of the souring camaraderie. If the upcoming general elections scheduled for the end of this year are in Imran Khan’s favor, the Chinese and their plans can further jeopardise. So for now, with the interference of the Pakistan Army in the country’s politics, widespread terrorism, and the common man’s resentment against the Chinese imperialistic projects, the sun is setting on CPEC.

​Not many bailout options for the embattled economy of Pakistan


The current situation of Pakistan is arguably the most difficult faced by the country in last two decades. Simultaneously confronting the trinity of economic crisis, political chaos and rising number of terror attacks along north western areas have drained the resources of the South Asian country. Among these, the economic deterioration has a direct bearing of public welfare and fate of the present government.

The catastrophic floods of 2022 came a severe blow to the cash-strapped nation  already grappling with high debt. According to a report of the country’s planning commission, agriculture, food, livestock, and fisheries sectors lost $3.7 billion in the floods with long-term losses estimated to be around $9.24 billion. The recorded headline inflation in the country stood at 24.5% in December 2022, almost double of a figure of 12.3% one year ago. Most pinching for the common people is historically high price of flour due to worst-ever wheat crisis in the country. Many areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Balochistan provinces have even witnessed stampedes for the grain and flour. Analysts fear that the crisis may soon take petroleum products and basic essential items under its fold. Some experts also hint at possible rationing of petrol and diesel in the next two to three months, ultimately hitting the trade and industry and even the agricultural sector, which needs diesel during the harvesting season.

Traditionally, the twin deficits of the budget and balance-of-payments have been managed by Islamabad by reaching out to bilateral benefactors and multilateral institutions. About half of the $7 billion loan, extended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2019, has already been disbursed. While a delay in the release of next IMF tranche is exacerbating the problem for the country, the International agencies now contend that the country’s problems are outcomes of governments constantly living beyond their means without raising domestic resources.

In  absence of any inflows from the IMF or friendly countries, the forex reserves with country’s central bank dropped to $4.34 billion in the week ending Jan 6 which is the lowest since February 2014.

According to analysts, the reserves are not even enough to pay for one month of imports. Already plummeting growth rate of GDP had made it difficult for Pakistan to service debt of $274 billion, which was nearly 80% of GDP at the end of 2022. Over the past year, the Pakistani rupee has shed over 20% to trade at 229.85 per dollar (Jan. 20), making imports costlier.

The government felt some relief on January 9, 2023 when donors pledged over $9 billion to help with flood recovery efforts. However, further clarity is needed on the nature and schedule of this help. Similarly, on January 12, the United Arab Emirates agreed to roll over $2 billion owed by Pakistan and provide the country with an extra loan of $1 billion, helping it to avoid immediate default. However, these short term fixes cannot be a replacement of next IMF installment which the country needs badly. The US has confirmed its ‘concern’ about Pakistan’s economic instability with its State Department spokesperson Ned Price saying said stating that “This is a challenge that we are attuned to,”. There was no further indication from Washington of any possible help in expediting the release.

As Pakistan heads towards economic collapse, is it using #KashmirSolidarityDay as a distraction?


By South Asia Press Team

At a time when Pakistan nears bankruptcy, it was indeed astounding to observe the Pakistani Prime Minister chairing a special meeting in Islamabad to review preparations for “Kashmir Solidarity Day” being observed in Pakistan today. The Shehbaz Sharif government even issued a circular to urge schools to observe “Kashmir Solidarity Day”. Separately, Pakistani embassies and consulates across the world have been using their social media accounts to invite the Pakistani diaspora to attend the events organized to mark this event.

(Article continues below)


And as the Pakistani government agencies obsess with photo exhibitions, documentaries and seminars on Kashmir, the country struggles to cope with mounting debt, inflated energy import costs, dwindling forex reserves, global inflation, political instability, and a sustained drop in GDP growth. Pakistan has now reached a stage of no return on the economic front. . There was a nationwide blackout for two days from January 23 even in densely populated cities like Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, and Peshawar.

While its leaders shed tears for the human rights violation in Indian Kashmir, hundreds of thousands of people living in Pakistan administered Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan have been facing a severe shortage of food, electricity, and government employees have gone without salaries for some months.

The massive power breakdowns, which engulfed Pakistan last week, has left the mountainous areas of Gilgit Baltistan in dire straits too. For months, a shortage of flour and pulses are now driving people to the streets, who are demanding a basic modicum of livelihood and food. Due to the regular power outages, shops and businesses are shut for most of the day. So are farms, poultry and cattle sheds. Jobs have disappeared. Schools are shut.

People are out on the streets, looking for help from the administration. Protests have become common in Shigar, Baraldu, Ghanche, Balghar and other cities of GB. But there are no assurances about either the supply of flour or power. Power shutdowns last almost 22 hours in major cities like Skardu, the capital of GB. In smaller towns and villages, electricity is restored once every three days, for only 30 minutes.

In the past, there have been clashes between the army and locals over control of land in the area, which is being grabbed by the Pakistani state. The federal government’s thrust on CPEC and relentless usurping of public land for the Chinese cause has created a rift with the local population. People have little trust either in the local administration or in Islamabad to help them tide over the current food and power crisis, leaving them no choice but to lead protests across the region in the coming days.

The question is while the country struggles to stay afloat, is there not a need for it to express solidarity with its owns citizens who are grappling to make ends meet? However, the Pakistan government instead prefers to be preoccupied with “Kashmir Solidarity Days” with the objective to hit out at its arch rival and neighbour, India.  

For the Pakistani state, it is now a race against time to prevent the nation from a complete economic collapse, which could severely impact millions of its citizens. Such is the extent of the crisis that the government auctioned a Pakistani embassy property in the US a few days ago. Speaking at an event in Islamabad last September, PM Shabaz Sharif stated that when any of his cabinet ministers travel or make phone calls to leadership of friendly countries, they assume that the overtures from the Pakistani side are being made because “Pakistan has come to beg for money…”

It remains to be seen that after being stuck in an economic vortex, whether Pakistan, the economically unstable nuclear-powered nation, will continue to hide behind the veil of ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day.’

Secret Chinese Police Stations in Paris and other parts of the world a threat to democracy. Activists call for action.


By the DISSIDENT club team

Masquerading as a residence between two restaurants in the 13th arrondissement of Paris is one of the three alleged Chinese “overseas police stations” in the city. Established secretly, these are apparently offices of Chinese regional police organizations that are used to surveil and intimidate not just Chinese exiles and dissidents, but also people of other nationalities who criticize the Chinese regime.

“Our survey shows that there are over a 100 clandestine police stations in over 50 countries around the world”, said Laura Harth, Campaigns Director at the Safeguard Defenders at the DISSIDENT club.

A roundtable hosted by the DISSIDENT club last week focusing on “Chinese police stations in France and the West” brought together representatives from Safeguard Defenders, a Madrid-based human rights non-governmental organization (NGO) that recently released an in-depth investigation about the issue, along with journalists from several French media outlets including – the well known newspaper Libération.The event was attended by a number of Chinese dissidents in exile from Hong Kong, Tibet, and East Turkestan (commonly known as the Uyghurs), who spoke of their experiences.

“The goal [of these police stations] is not to put people in prison, but to send the message that even in France, China has the power”, said Tenam, an activist for free Tibet living in exile in Paris.

Last December, the Libération reported that these police stations have facilitated at least one coercive operation on a Chinese citizen on French soil. Laurence Defranoux, the journalist from Libération, told the audience at the DISSIDENT Club how the Chinese embassy tried to discredit its investigations into a secret police station in Aubervillier, a Parisian suburb. “It is a question of sovereignty,” she said. “It is really democracy under attack.”

Dr. Dilnur Reyhan, the President of the Uyghur Institute in France reported that the Chinese police were harassing her sister, with whom she has had no contact since 2019, for details about her French citizenship. “Now the Chinese monitoring service is not only targeting dissidents and the diaspora, but also citizens of these so-called democracies who dare to speak out and criticize”.

Others exiled speakers included Lok Kan and Kenneth Yeung of the Hong Kong freedom movement and Can Polat from the Turkish exiled community.

“The existence of these police stations is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Chinese government’s efforts to intimidate and persecute its critics,” explained Lok Kan of the African Hong Kong France (AHKF) movement.

But even more alarming is the fact that the Chinese regime is trying to legitimize these stations by inserting them into the mechanisms of international and bilateral cooperation, which is a clear attack against civil liberties.

An example of such cooperation between China and Europe is Italy. Between 2015 and 2018, the Italian government signed a series of bilateral security deals with China that included joint patrols with the Chinese police forces in Rome, Milan, and Naples, according to Safeguard Defenders, which also found evidence of video surveillance systems being added to the Chinese residential areas in Italy under the guise of “deterring crime”.

“The most serious problem about this is not just the actions of the Chinese state, but the fact that the countries that claim to be democratic are accepting this,” said Dr. Reyhan.

Since the Safeguard Defenders report was released in late 2022, governments of the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal and Canada have launched police investigations into the matter. However, without a strong and effective action to stop such violations of sovereignty and rights, political dissidents, especially those from regions under control by China continue to face threats to their freedom and life, despite living in exile, where they are supposed to be safe.

Taha Siddiqui, the founder of the DISSIDENT Club, and a Pakistani journalist in exile concluded the roundtable by calling for the West to do more.“Dissidents like us are repeatedly highlighting such transnational repression by China and other oppressive regimes. Journalists are writing about it, and NGOs are publishing reports. It is high time that the western governments also acted against this illegal acts of China to protect the values of democracy and freedom of speech.”


This article orginally appeared on the DISSIDENT club.

Arshad Sharif’s killing: a well-planned elimination?


By South Asia Press Team

There is increasing evidence that the brutal killing of Pakistani investigative journalist, Arshad Sharif, in Kenya was carried out by an international cabal controlled by Pakistani intelligence agencies. He was close to the Pakistan Army officials but when he turned against the army after  the Imran Khan government fell, orders went out to eliminate him. There is already evidence of assassin squads run by the ISI tasked with taking out journalists, bloggers and social media activists critical of the army.

Sharif first went to UAE and was living in Dubai when he was forced to leave the emirate under pressure from the army. He then went to Kenya where he was cornered and shot in October.

A 592-page investigative report presented recently to the Supreme Court of Pakistan categorically stated that Sharif’s killing was premeditated and was carried out by a group of persons who had planned and executed the killing. The assassins had been chasing Sharif for some time. The murder, the report said, was triggered by Sharif’s work as a journalist. The report was prepared by a team of senior police officers set up by the apex court.

Arshad Sharif’s killing closely resembles the killing of another famous journalist, Saleem Shahzad in 2011. Shahzad was known to be close to the army but when he began unravelling the connection between ISI officers, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and al Qaeda, he became the army’s target. He was abducted from outside his house in Islamabad, tortured and killed and his body dumped outside his house. Shahzad, considered a pro-Army journalist, found the mysterious  killing of retired chief of the Special Services Group, Major General Ameer Faisal Alvi in October 2008 fishy and discovered that the senior army officer had threatened to expose two Generals who were striking deals with TTP chief, Baitullah Mehsud. He had warned of the nexus between ISI officials, Sipah-e-Sahaba and TTP.

Arshad Sharif, according to his lawyers, was close to Brigadier Muhammad Shafiq in ISPR. The lawyer said ISPR was like a second home to Sharif. But when Sharif turned against the army after the no-confidence motion, Shafiq tried to persuade him to stop in vain. Several cases of treason were filed by Shafiq against Sharif. Shafiq refused to answer seven questions sent in writing by the investigation team set up by the Supreme Court.

Arshad Sharif’s mother, Riffat Ara Alvi,  reinforces the fact-finding commission’s report by accusing not only Brigadier Shafiq but also the former army chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, ISI chief Lt. General Nadeem Anjum, Major General Faisal Naseer, Brigadier Faheem Raza, Colonel Rizwan, Colonel Nouman Waqar Khurram.

In a letter sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, she said her son turned against the army in April 2022, for its “involvement in politics and political engineering”.  For the past 15 years, Ms Alvi wrote, “Sharif was close to the army, covering many of their operations against militants. He became critical of certain individuals in the army for their involvement in politics and forced disappearances.This is when he started receiving threats, first from Brigadier Muhammad Shafiq Malik of ISPR…and then from Brigadier Fahim Raza of ISI who called him to ISI Sector HQ Islamabad to convey message of Major General Faisal Naseer, DG -C, ISI.” When Sharif declined to heed these threats, other officers began issuing similar threats. In fact, one of them, Colonel Nouman came to his home one day and warned him of dire consequences if he did not stop from reporting on the army.

Thereafter, cases of sedition and treason were filed against him in various cities. In all, 16 FIRs were filed and only two complainants appeared before the fact finding committee. The committee found that one of the FIRs was filed by SHO Mamon Gath on the directions of SSP Malir Irfan Bahadur. The complaint was written in front of three ISI officers at ISI Karachi office. The committee got copies of only six FIRs despite several reminders, all that adds to the suspicion of involvement of state agencies.

Arshad fled Pakistan on August 10 and went to UAE where he could not stay longer due to pressure from the authorities. He then went to Nairobi to stay with two acquaintances, Khurram and Waqar Ahmad. The fact-finding team found Ahmad to be working for Kenyan intelligence agency and other international agencies. Arshad Sharif’s mother, in her letter, alleged that Waqar Ahmed worked for the ISI. He was reportedly in touch with ISI sector commander, Brigadier Faheem Raza.

In the early hours of October 24, Sharif was shot in Nairobi which the Kenyan police said was caused by `mistaken identity`. The fact-finding committee thought otherwise and reported that the murder was pre-meditated. The committee officers found that Arshad was killed at close range from a stationary vehicle, an assertion which counters the Kenyan theory. The Kenyan assertion that Sharif was shot twice only fell through when Sharif’s postmortem was conducted in Pakistan. The doctors found that the journalist was shot 12 times. What raised the investigating team’s suspicion that Sharif was shot in the back from relatively close range but there was no corresponding penetration mark of a bullet in the seat on which he was sitting, a “ballistic impossibility”. The only possibility is that he was shot either before he got into the car or shot from a very close range, from inside the vehicle.

Although the Supreme Court has shown interest in pursuing the case, most likely the killing of Arshad Sharif, like Saleem Shahzad, would remain inconclusive as key actors in this sordid drama are `untouchables` in Pakistan.

51 years after Pakistan has learnt no lesson from the separation and liberation of Bangladesh known as Fall of Dhaka


Pakistan lost what was called East Pakistan in 1971 after a bloody conflict, which involved its military against the separatist fighters from the former East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh. Thousands of Bengalis lost their lives, hundreds of women were raped, and many locals went missing, as the Pakistan Army unleashed a campaign of terror at the beginning of 1971, in Operation Searchlight – which was the codename for a planned military operation carried out by the Pakistan Army in an effort to curb the Bengali nationalist movement in former East Pakistan.

Today, Pakistan is running multiple similar secret military operations against different ethnic groups, especially the Baloch, who are being oppressed by the country’s powerful military.

The Baloch demand an independent nation, and consider Pakistan as an occupying force. The indigenous population also claims that Pakistan has been exploiting their natural resources’ rich region which is known to have large gas and other mineral resources reserves without reinvesting the huge profits they earn. In response to the political demands of the Baloch people, Pakistani military has abducted thousands of locals and the mutilated bodies of missing persons are found daily.

Secondly, the Pashtun region in the North-west part of the country, are also facing state persecution, triggering an ethnic movement in the region called the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) which has repeatedly accused the Pakistani military of oppressing the locals using different tactics including militant groups to target kill those who ask for their rights.

The third group under that Pakistani state targets including ethnic Sindhis and Mohajir (which means migrants in the local Urdu language) groups who live in the south of the country. The ethnic Sindhi movements for separation are targeted in the same way as the Baloch, with the people going missing without any trials and no one knows their whereabouts, where as the Mohajirs are targeted by police and paramilitary security forces known as the Rangers who control the Sindh province.

Owing to these fault lines and Pakistan’s inability to learn from its mistakes in former East Pakistan, there is a growing perception among Pakistani intellectuals that the other regions of the country may also head towards a civil war and the country may end up being divided further. Given that Pakistan is now a nuclear armed country with the fifth largest population in the world, any destability in the country can have dire consequences for the region and the world at large.