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Jaranwala residents had little to begin with — the violent mob took away their hope too



The most destructive members of the mob were children aged 10 to 15 years, says a resident. “I have never been this scared of children.”

It’s Friday afternoon, August 18, two days after dozens of Christian homes and 19 churches in various neighbourhoods and villages of Faisalabad’s Jaranwala tehsil were vandalised and burned down by a mob over blasphemy allegations.

Sayedwala Road, which cuts through Jaranwala city is lined with rows of prison vans and police vehicles. Law enforcement agencies are on high alert in surrounding cities, including Faisalabad, where most residents of Jaranwala had fled ahead of the attacks on their homes. They say they are expecting another mob attack after Friday prayers.

Inside Jaranwala, the road leading from Sayedwala Road to Cinema Chowk is blocked with barbed wire and all entrances leading to the roundabout have been cordoned off. The alleged blasphemy incident occurred at Cinema Chowk, a few hundred meters from Jamia Masjid Mahtab, where the prayer leader made announcements, inciting the violence that followed.

Additional police contingents from Faisalabad and Rescue-1122 fire engines dot all road entrances from Christian Town to Essa Nagri in Chak 127 on the fringes of Gogera Bank Canal, around two kilometres away, all the way to the Parish House, a further 2kms away.

In the street next to Jamia Masjid Mahtab, two to three homes out of many are reduced to ashes. Here, a man sits outside his burned house on a chair and his neighbour, a woman, stands on the footsteps leading to hers. “Someone knocked on my door early in the morning and said everyone in Christian Town has left because of an impending attack and you need to hurry,” she says, reminiscing the ordeal matter-of-factly.

The blasphemy suspects were residents of Christian Town, a crisscross maze of narrow streets and no sewage system, a few blocks behind Jamia Masjid Mahtab and adjacent to Chammra Mandi (leather market). An adjoining street carries a makeshift banner with the slogan of Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan.

A makeshift banner of the TLP hangs in a street adjacent to Christian Town. All photos by author

Tents and barbed wire secure the perimeters of the streets where the suspects lived and if those weren’t enough, policemen wade through overflowing gutter water to turn people away from the place. All the homes in those streets are almost burnt to ashes. But in the street next to the mosque where the lady lives, someone had to identify for the mob which of those homes belonged to Christian families.

Pointing at her neighbour sitting outside his burned house, she says they only returned Friday morning at around 10am because officials of the building department were supposed to visit their homes to estimate damages.

Valuables stolen from a trunk inside a home in Essa Nagri.

The Punjab government is considering an offer of recompense for damages between Rs200,000 and Rs1 million, depending on the scale of the damage. On Friday, building department officials began visiting homes in various neighbourhoods to begin to devise a mechanism to estimate damages. “We will measure the size of these houses and arrive at an estimate based on what we can see,” said a building official, making the rounds in Essa Nagri.

mob burned down 60 homes and killed seven people over similar allegations in Gojra district, 74kms away from Jaranwala. At the same time, Chak 424 was threatened, and its residents had to flee.

Khushpur village, located 70kms away from Jaranwala, is the village of the late Bishop John Joseph who shot himself on the steps of a court protest against the blasphemy law in 1998.

Also located 40kms from Jaranwala is Warispura, where two Christian brothers were shot dead over blasphemy allegations in 2010. The same town was emptied of Christian families briefly in 2018 as well after another round of blasphemy allegations.

Last week’s events in Jaranwala were just the latest in a series of violent incidents propagated to persecute a minority that has little to begin with and even less to hope for. Meanwhile, the state’s repeated failure to prosecute those responsible for these crimes inspires little confidence among the community.

As residents of Jaranwala pick up the pieces of what remains of their lives, there is little doubt that the horrors of August 16 will haunt them for generations. And while monetary compensation may ease some financial burden, one can only hope that the state finally realises its promise to its most vulnerable citizens — the protection of life and property guaranteed to all, irrespective of faith, caste or status.

Header image: A police officer walks past the belongings of residents along a street in a Christian neighbourhood, a day after the church buildings and houses were vandalised by a mob in Jaranwala. — Reuters


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Rogue doctor’s arrest a ‘test case’ for law enforcement



• Originally a plastic surgeon at LGH, Mumtaz conducted illegal operations in private residences
• Officials say surgeries have claimed lives of several patients including foreign nationals

LAHORE: Notorious illegal kidney transplant surgeon Fawad Mumtaz, who was re-arrested a couple of days ago by Lahore police after he escaped from custody, has become a ‘test case’ for the criminal justice system and the law enforcement agencies, especially for the Punjab police.

Mumtaz has been booked and arrested several times by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Pu­­­n­jab police, but each time, he has managed to obtain bail and con­­tinued his illegal transplant racket.

According to his criminal record, Mumtaz has been running the largest-ever illegal kidney transplant racket across the country, especially in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir since 2009.

An official said that Mumtaz was originally a plastic surgeon at the state-run Lahore General Hospital. He was serving as an assistant professor when he was first suspended from service for conducting illegal transplant procedures.

The rogue surgeon has reportedly become a billionaire, exploiting rich clients and charging exorbitant amounts from clients — especially those from Gulf countries — to perform illegal transplant operations.

According to FIA and police in­­vestigations, Mumtaz would char­­ge Rs10 million to Rs15 million from foreign clients/patients for each illegal kidney transplant and used to pay Rs100,000 to Rs150,000 to local donors, who his gang members would trap with the promise of employment or other lures.

The rogue surgeon would conduct the illegal transplant procedures in rented houses in private housing societies in cities across the province, it has emerged.

A few days ago, Lahore police picked him up from Taxila in connection with a case registered against him at Garden Town police station.

But shockingly, Mumtaz managed to flee from police custody, and the official explanation provided was that four of his armed accomplices attacked the police team and managed to free him.

The incident prompted careta­ker Punjab chief minister Mohsin Naqvi to hold a press conference.

He told journalists on Sunday that Mumtaz has been re-arrested by Lahore police and action has been proposed against police officers who had taken him into custody before he managed to escape.

Lahore DIG Investigation Imran Kishwar told Dawn the accused was on physical remand and police were interrogating him. He said the officials responsible for his escape had been suspended from service and a departmental inquiry has been launched to punish them accordingly.

An official told Dawn that Mumtaz had a notorious criminal record spanning over a decade.

Currently, several cases are lodged against him in Lahore, Multan, Okara, Bahawalpur, Fai­salabad, Taxila and Rawalpindi.

The last case against him was registered in Taxila, where a joint team of the Punjab Human Organ Transplant Authority and local police arrested six suspects, including doctors and paramedics, during a raid in March.

Talking about illegal renal transplant procedures, the official said that Mumtaz had performed a kidney transplant on the daughter of famous comedian Umar Sharif in Azad Jammu and Kashmir in February 2020.

During the procedure, she developed serious complications and was brought to hospital in Lahore, where she breathed her last, the official said, adding that Mumtaz received Rs3.5 million from the family to perform the illegal transplant in AJK because there were no laws to prevent illegal human organ transplants in that territory.

FIA teams had also failed to arrest Mumtaz during an earlier raid on his residence in Lahore, and consequently, the rogue surgeon had managed to go into hiding. He was arrested by FIA in April 2017, when he had carried out illegal transplant procedures on Jordanian, Libyan and Omani nationals at EME Society in Lahore for Rs6m each.

Later, FIA revealed that a Jordanian national had died during the illegal procedure.

The deceased woman’s death certificate was faked by one of Mumtaz’s accomplices, Dr Altamash Kharal, and the body was kept in another private hospital in Defence before being sent back to Jordan. At the time, FIA had recommended action against Mumtaz and his accomplices.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2023


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Naila Kiani, Sirbaz Khan become first Pakistani duo to summit world’s 6th highest peak Cho Oyu



Mountaineers Naila Kiani and Sirbaz Khan became the first Pakistani duo to summit the 8,201-metre-tall Cho Oyu — the world’s sixth-highest peak in China’s Tibet — on Monday.

The mountain is located on the Nepal-Tibet border 20 kilometres west of Mount Everest in the Mahalangur range. Cho Oyu means “Turquoise Goddess” in Tibetan.

The duo reached the summit earlier today at 12:30pm (Nepal Time) as part of the expedition led by Imagine Nepal. Khan made the climb without using any supplementary oxygen.

They successfully reached the summit just five days after crossing the Tibet border from Nepal.

Kiani became the first Pakistani woman climber to summit 10 peaks above 8,000m and the only Pakistani to ascend seven peaks above 8,000m in six months.

Meanwhile, Khan became the only Pakistani to summit 13 peaks above 8,000m with today’s success and the only one to conquer 10 mountains above 8,000m without the use of supplementary oxygen.

Last month, the two had also successfully completed the ascent of the world’s eighth-highest peak, 8,163m-tall Mt Manaslu, in Nepal. Subsequently, the duo had arrived in China with the aim of conquering both Cho Oyu and Shishapangma.

Kiani has already scaled Broad Peak (8,047m), Annapurna (8,091m), K2 (8,611m), Lhotse (8,516m), Gashe­rbrum I (8,068m), Gashe­rbrum II (8,035m), Nanga Parbat (8,125m) and Mount Everest (8,849m).

Saad Munawar, Khan’s expedition manager, told that Khan was on a mission to complete the challenging goal of conquering all 14 peaks above 8,000m.

“Hailing from the Hunza district of Gilgit-Baltistan, Sirbaz continues to make his homeland proud with his extraordinary mountaineering achievements,” he said.

Munawar also commended Kiani’s determination, emphasising that her ascent of the peak occurred under “extraordinarily challenging conditions” marked by poor visibility and adverse weather.

“The marathon climb, spanning over 28 hours, stands as a testament to her exceptional strength and mountaineering prowess,” he said.

Alpine Club of Pakistan Secretary Karrar Haidri felicitated Kiani and Khan for their triumphant ascent of Cho Oyu.

“We hold our collective hopes and prayers for their safe return from this extraordinary adventure. Their dedication to mountaineering is truly commendable, and their achievements serve as a wellspring of inspiration for all,” he remarked while talking to

Separately, young Pakistani climber Shehroze Kashif reached the base camp of Cho Oyu and will commence his endeavour to ascend the peak from Tuesday (tomorrow).

The summit will mark his 13th conquest of an 8,000m peak.

He also scaled Manaslu last month.


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Circular debt grows despite tariff hikes



ISLAMABAD: Power sector circular debt continues to grow despite all the repeated tariff increases on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis as the government takes a strategic move towards billing in the consumer tariffs capacity charges payable to power producers.

This came to light when the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on Monday notified a flat Rs3.2814 per unit additional quarterly tariff adjustment (QTA) in electricity bills of all consumer categories (except lifeline consumers) and companies including (K-Electric) for the next six months — October to March 2024. The overall revenue impact goes beyond Rs200bn which includes Rs136bn on account of additional cash flows to 10 ex-Wapda distribution companies (Discos), in addition to 18pc GST.

Simultaneously, the Power Division also silently put on its website the National Electric Plan (NEP) 2023-27 approved by the PDM-led coalition government on Aug 8 envisaging partial recovery of capacity charges payable to IPPs through fixed charges in all consumers except those in very poor category.

The Power Division on the other hand uploaded on its website a circular debt report for the period ending June 30, showing total payables to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) at Rs1.434 trillion and total circular debt at Rs2.31tr. The report card released after a gap of about three months showed payables to IPPs growing by Rs83bn and total circular debt by Rs57bn in FY23 when compared to the previous fiscal year. The payables to public sector generation companies also went up by Rs10bn to Rs111bn.

Caretaker govt silently adopts National Electric Plan 2023-27

Electric plan

“Fixed charges shall be progressively incorporated in the tariffs of all consumer segments except consumers of protected category. Such fixed charges shall duly account for, inter alia, the share of capacity cost in cost of service, market interventions, consumption behaviours and affordability of consumers,” said the NEP which has now been adopted by the caretaker government as well. “It is aimed that by FY27, the fixed charges shall account for at least 20pc of the fixed cost of the respective categories evaluated through a cost-of-service study,” it added.

The plan envisages the continuation of cross-subsidies — electricity to be charged at higher rates from commercial, industrial and higher consumption residential consumers — to finance the sociopolitical responsibility of the government to provide subsidy to the lifeline and protected-category consumers but promises full overall cost recovery of the electricity supply through enhanced rates from all consumers. “Tariffs for the residential consumers shall be progressively adjusted to align with the principle of cost-of-service,” it added.

The tariff design shall be regularly revisited to foster market interventions, cross-subsidy rationalisation, bill & revenue stability and customer satisfaction through multi-part tariff structures, creation & restructuring of slabs in existing categories of the consumers and creation of new categories, etc.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2023


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