What Congress Should Ask McChrystal (Updated)

What Congress Should Ask McChrystal (Updated)

By Noah Shachtman Email Author



Top American and International Security Assistance Force commander General Stanley McChrystal is getting set to testify before the Senate and the House this week. Here are some of the questions we’d ask, if we were Congresscritters. Tack on your own questions in the comments.

* You’ve said the primary mission of ISAF forces should be to secure the population. So why are 9,000 of the 30,000 surge troops headed to largely rural Helmand province? Why are Marines now assaulting thelargely abandoned city of Now Zad?

* Counterinsurgencies are most successful when troops live among the population. Remind me: How many ISAF troops are currently stationed at the giant military bases at Kandahar and Bagram Air Fields?

* You’ve said that training the Afghan army and police is now the primary mission there. So why are you devoting only one of the surge brigades to that task?

* What good are more cops and soldiers, if the government that controls them is still corrupt?

* Your boss, General David Petraeus, described Afghanistan and Pakistan as a “single theater” of war. How often do you work with the American officials conducting the war on the Pakistani side?

* You’ve been able to reduce civilian casualties by severely restricting air strikes. But that’s also put ISAF forces at risk. Have any troops been hurt or killed as a result of lack of air support?

* Despite your rules on air strikes, there have been several instances of ISAF bombing runs killing large numbers of civilians. What are the results of the investigations into the September 4th air strikes on Kunduz? The November 6th air strike in Baghdis province?

* Do you expect the rules of engagement for air strikes to change, with the escalation of the war?

* By some estimates, as many as 1,000 320 civilians have been killed by American air strikes in Pakistan. Should your rules of engagement be applied to Pakistan, too?

* In your tactical guidance, you told ground commanders to consider retreating, rather than fire into populated compounds. How often has that happened?

* In your August assessment, you stressed the need for ISAF troops to learn Afghanistan’s local culture. How many troops currently speak more than 10 words of Pashto or Urdu?

* Fuel can cost the military as much as $400 per gallon in Afghanistan, after all the logistical costs are added in. What’s being done to reduce those logistical costs — or our troops’ reliance on fuel?

* The current offensive in Helmand province is named “Cobra’s Anger.” Will other operations have such awesome monikers? Will they also evoke Saturday morning cartoons? May we suggest “Decepticon Fury?”

UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman wants to know “which population centers will we secure, and which areas will we neglect? What’s the measurement? And how do we mitigate against insurgents taking hold in the places we’re not going?” Adam Serwer wants to know what’s up with the black jail at Bagram.

Josh Foust weighs in with some doozies, including perhaps the most important question of all: “Tell me how this ends. What’s your idea end-state? What is an unacceptable end state? At what point do you think the costs of our continued involvement outweigh any potential or actual benefits we can get?”

* Given the many problems with ANA and ANP training, retention, and operational capacity, how will you balance an accelerated force expansion with training requirements?

* Today, Admiral Stavridis suggested Iraq, the Balkans, and Central America as models for Afghanistan. Is a half-dysfunctional narco-state with an active terrorist movement really the best we can hope for?

* Why is the North being conceded? Why is religious language being invoked (”going after the Taliban’s religious center”) when discussing escalation in Kandahar? Do you find that problematic?

* Do you see a danger in the war in the south morphing from a counterinsurgency to a counternarcotics war? Why should our soldiers fight and die to clear some poppy fields? Do you think the public would support the war if it looks like it is focusing on opium-rich areas and ignoring Taliban-rich areas like Kunduz, Paktika, and Kunar?

* How does this escalation put pressure on the militias operating in Pakistan?


Iran powerless to stop revolution by proxy

Iran powerless to stop revolution by proxy

By Alec Robinson


Protests, violent clashes and government crackdowns are now regular events (AFP: Ali Safari )


Illegal satellite dishes are set up on a roof in the Iranian capital of Tehran. (ABC News)


A police van with darkened windows is parked on a footpath in Tehran. (ABC News)

Six months on from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed election victory, reports of gunfire and beatings are still coming out of Tehran almost weekly.

In the past 24 hours there have been reports shots have been fired in Tehran, as security forces have yet again clashed with student protesters.

In an attempt to prevent the protesters from getting organised, the government has been shutting down communication lines, but it seems to be making little difference.

Before Iran’s disputed elections this year, publicly criticising the leaders of the country was almost impossible, but there was a chink in the Government’s armour that’s now being exploited.

Despite the deliberate daily intimidation, of police vans and armed guards constantly lurking the streets, the Iranians were already perfecting ways of getting their message out.

Now that protests, violent clashes and government crackdowns are regular events, those methods are helping the young Iranians organise protests and fight on the propaganda front.

Early hints of quiet opposition

"You can find me on Facebook," a man called Mehdi told me last year. I’d met him in the desert town of Yazd in central Iran and, in the typically hospitable nature of all Persians, he’d helped me translate the Farsi writing on my bus ticket.

"I thought those [social networking] sites were banned in Iran?" I said.

"Yes, but you can still view it through a proxy site. It means the government cannot see that you are looking at a banned site."

I asked him to show me what he meant, so we went to his work and he fired up a computer.

Mehdi showed me a number of different internet sites where you view a site within the site – hiding what you’re really looking at.

He even confidently typed "Iran’s nuclear installation sites" into a search engine within a fake websites and up popped a satellite map of reported nuclear sites. I found out that the young Persians also use these sites to download illegal Farsi rap which is critical of the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

All over Iran, students are using these proxy websites and servers to send images of the protests to the outside world and keep in touch with one another.

Early this morning I spoke to a 21-year-old Tehran University student, Ashraf.

Ashraf confirmed the reports that the government has shut down the mobile phone network and blocked access to political sites and satellite television.

Satellite TV was already illegal in Iran, but in another daily act of defiance most rooftops have makeshift dishes propped up by bricks. Police occasionally raid homes and apartment blocks, confiscate the dishes and fine the owners, who then go out and put up a new one and keep watching.

Ashraf says the government has now found ways of blocking the satellite signals.

He says now all the channels, including BBC Persia, the US-sponsored Voice of America, and others including Arabic movie channels, just don’t work any more. So the only option is to watch state-controlled media.

Songs of protest

The blocks on mobile phones and political websites have not stopped Ashraf and others like him from seeking free information online. He and others have also been editing together images of the protests and uploading them to the internet, complete with rousing Persian soundtracks.

One of these clips is set to a song called Rahe Rahayie, or Salvation Way. Loosely translated, the lyrics run: "Our country is good, the weakness of our enemy is good and it’s good to lose our life for freedom."

This is exactly the kind of dissident message the Iranian government wants to shut down, but there’s a problem.

While we were speaking, Ashraf showed me another way they get around the blocks on political websites. We both logged onto an online networking and file-sharing site.

"Here. Open this link," said Ashraf as he transferred me the address of a website in support of the Opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

"It’s all in Farsi," I said. "What should I be looking for?"

"Nevermind. Just click on the sharing icon next to my name. Can you see it? Now select the ‘share full-screen’ option."

I clicked on the option and Ashraf was able to view my computer screen and navigate through the site, reading messages for Opposition supporters.

Ashraf was using my computer in Sydney to find out information about what was going on in his country, but which the Iranian government had blocked.

In July, New York-based internet expert Professor Clay Shirky told the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program that shutting down infrastructure like the internet could not be sustained by the Iranian government.

"What this class of dissidents has done is not just discomfort the government locally," he said. "It’s given them a kind of political auto-immune disease in which they have to attack their own infrastructure to shut the dissent down.

"But that class of attack can’t be sustained for weeks, much less months. No advanced economy can survive the wholesale shutdown of its communications function and survive over the long haul."

That prediction by Professor Shirky has proven to be the chink in Mr Ahmadinejad’s armour.

By targeting the political websites the government avoids a "wholesale shutdown" of the country’s internet access.

At the same time it allows the protesters to get around the bans, even if it means using a computer in Sydney to find out what’s happening in Tehran.

Death to the Middle Class

Death to the Middle Class

Fighting Delusion


The American middle class is an endangered species. It is being squeezed to death. Middle class Americans are being pushed against their will into the Lower Class. Such is the nature of all the trends in the American economy over many years, not just a consequence of the current Great Recession. This is happening as the rich and powerful Upper Class continues to enjoy their incredible wealth.
The current unemployment crisis will persist for many, many years. Together with a terrible housing market and continued mortgage foreclosures coupled with rising health care costs there is nothing but doom for millions of Americans who once thought of themselves as comfortably middle class, living the American dream. Their children surely are questioning their futures, especially because college graduates are now facing great trouble finding good jobs and anyone with an ounce of smarts knows that the enormous national debt spells higher taxes and lower benefits for the rest of the century.
Older Americans facing major losses in their savings and higher costs face precarious golden-turned-to-lead years, especially as they worry about reduced Medicare benefits and increasingly look for food banks and pantries to get some free food.
Absolutely nothing being done by Congress and President Obama is doing anything useful to save the middle class. Nothing will rebuild the once great manufacturing sector that offered good jobs and the route to middle class comfort and security. And professional jobs requiring college degrees will continue to be outsourced to lower cost educated people in many foreign countries. All that is left for the majority of Americans are low pay jobs in the retail and service sectors. For the lucky few there are jobs in government and health care, but the odds are thousands to one against getting good ones.
In years past people could borrow money outright, use credit cards and use their homes to get loans and offset the lower economic status from good paying jobs, but those days are gone. You hear a lot about people saving more, but that is desperation and also means lower consumer spending that keeps the economy depressed and means still less jobs.
Sound bad? You better believe it. Connect all the dots and what you should understand is that the political system has become a willing partner in a class war of the rich and powerful against the middle class. All we have is misrepresentatives in Congress who, like those in the Executive Branch, are primarily serving the interests of the Upper Class which provides the money to keep them in office.
Welcome to the delusional democracy where even delusional prosperity is gone. And smart people know that they cannot vote the nation out of this misery, not as long as the corrupt two-party plutocracy maintains its iron grip on our political system and government. There must be some way out of this, you think. Think again. Take a serious look at the materials at the website of Friends of the Article V Convention foavc.org and the goal of using what the Constitution offers as the way out. Join our group and help us make Congress obey the Constitution. Because Congress will never truly reform the political system, but a convention of state delegates could. At least it’s worth trying rather than sticking with the status quo.

Musharraf Barred Pak Army Troops from American-Occupied Predator Base at Jacobabad

Army stopped from entering Jacobabad airbase: Gen Shahid

Musharraf obliged US without informing corps commanders; Former CGS talks to Hamid Mir in Capital Talk of Geo News

ISLAMABAD: Former chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt-Gen (retd) Shahid Aziz has said he, along with other senior Army officers, opposed to give Pakistan’s airbases to the US but the then president and chief of Army Staff Pervez Musharraf did it without informing his corps commanders.

Former CGS and former chairman of the NAB Shahid Aziz made this revelation while talking to Hamid Mir in Geo TV’s show “Capital Talk” on Monday night.

He said the Pakistani troops were moved from Quetta to Jacobabad for taking control of the local airbase, but “we were surprised when our troops informed us that the US Army had not allowed them to enter the Jacobabad airbase.” He said that after sometime, he came to know privately from a PAF officer that the US had also taken over the Pasni airbase and as the CGS, he was not aware of all these developments.

Shahid Aziz said Pervez Musharraf took most of the sensitive decisions without informing his corps commanders.

Responding to a question, he said Pakistan never benefited from the US presence in Afghanistan. In fact, India is using Afghanistan to destabilise Pakistan and this is happening under the nose of the US troops in Afghanistan, he said, adding Pakistan must say goodbye to the US war on terror now.

He admitted that Pervez Musharraf, his COS Hamid Javaid and Tariq Aziz forced him to close down the investigations against Benazir Bhutto and when he refused to implement the orders, he was asked to resign from the NAB chairmanship in July 2007. He said Musharraf was also responsible for facilitating many criminals through the NRO and he would definitely provide evidence against Musharraf in any court of law, if summoned.

Former interior minister Faisal Saleh Hayat also agreed that Pakistan must keep its distance from the US in the so-called war on terrorism. He claimed that India and Israel were involved in sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Dictator Must Stand Trial, So Must America’s

MPs demand Musharraf’s trial for Bugti murder

Call for amnesty, withdrawal of forces

By Asim Yasin and Muhammad Anis

ISLAMABAD: As the joint sitting of parliament started debate on the pros and cons of Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package, voices were raised for giving amnesty to Baloch leaders: both in and out of the country, trial of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf for assassinating Nawab Akbar Bugti and complete withdrawal of the Army as well as the Frontier Constabulary from Balochistan as part of the confidence-building measures.

On the first day of three-day session, though no one rejected the package outright, doubts were expressed about its implementation. The session was marked by lack of interest in the debate and only a few parliamentarians were present in the house when it was adjourned. A majority of parliamentarians left the house as soon as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani left the parliament house.

Opposition Leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who initiated the debate on the Balochistan package, observed it was not sufficient to address grievances of the Baloch people. He said it was good to note that the government, soon after assuming power, apologised to the people of Balochistan for past injustices and promised to come up with a comprehensive package but their expectations turned into disappointment when the package was announced. “The package has been rejected by the Balochistan governor and the chief minister, who belongs to the PPP, has also uttered no word in favour of the package,” he said. He said the PML-N would extend its full support to the government on the Balochistan package if all the stakeholders in the province accepted it.

Nisar demanded of the government to immediately register an FIR against Gen (retd) Pervez

Musharraf under Section 302 for murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti if it was sincere in healing the wounds of the Baloch people. “The people of Balochistan demand that the killers of Nawab Akbar Bugti, Lala Munir and other Baloch leaders be punished,” he said.

He said the federal government should have taken all stakeholders, including those Balochistan leaders who are outside the country into confidence. “If the government wants to save the country, it will have to tolerate the harsh language and attitude of the Baloch leaders,” he said.

Nisar suggested the government should announce amnesty for all Baloch leaders and workers and it should not restrict itself to the limits set by the Army and agencies. He also proposed setting up of a delegation of parliamentarians who should communicate with the angry Baloch leadership, currently outside the country. “The government should establish contact with them and they should be brought into the national mainstream,” he said.

The PML-N leader criticised Interior Minister Rehman Malik for saying that he would resign if any evidence of presence of Blackwater in the country was produced. “Who is working with different names and titles and have hired so many houses in Islamabad? They are present in every nook and corner of the country,” he said.

The opposition leader regretted neither any inquiry was held so far about the presence of Blackwater in Islamabad nor parliament was taken into confidence. Chairman of the parliamentary committee on Balochistan Mian Raza Rabbani commended the opposition leader for wholeheartedly supporting the government in implementing the Balochistan package.

He said the government would welcome suggestions from parliamentarians to fine-tune the package. He said the government is serious in implementing the package to ensure rapid socioeconomic and political development of the province.

Senator Hasil Bizenjo said this package would not fill the trust gap. “Our trust has been being breached for decades since the creation of Pakistan,” he said. Bizenjo went a step ahead of Shahid Bugti and said it was not Musharraf alone who was responsible for the murder of Nawab Bugti; rather the Army as an institution was responsible for his murder. “If the government is helpless in bringing Musharraf back, it should try other officers who are present in Pakistan,” he demanded.

Expressing doubts over the government’s ability to implement the package, he said a government, which could not change a single Army officer, could not be expected to give Balochistan its due rights. Bizenjo warned the government that the Baloch people were very sensitive about any demographic changes in their province and demanded that non-Baloch should be prohibited from getting Balochistan identity or buying property there.

He said it is strange while former interior minister Aftab Sherpao has put the missing persons figure at 4,000, Rehman Malik says only 1,100 people were missing. He said if the government was really sincere in investigations it should investigate the loot of land in Gwadar. “The prime minister should announce the cancellation of land purchases, take this land into the government control and we will support it,” he said.

He said they support a strong federation but not at the cost of their rights. “The concept of a strong federation has brought us to this point. If we give the provinces their rights it will strengthen Pakistan,” he said.

Senator Shahid Bugti of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) said: “After Akbar Bugti was killed, Pervez Musharraf praised his men by saying: well done boys.” He said since an FIR against Pervez Musharraf had been registered for killing Akbar Bugti, there was no need of constituting any inquiry commission.

The Baloch parliamentarian said since independence the Baloch people were never accepted as Pakistanis and every effort was made to marginalise them. “Had Musharraf succeeded in his nefarious designs, the Baloch people would have been living like Red Indians,” he said.

He said during Musharraf’s tenure, thousands of Baloch people were picked up and they are still missing. He said he was not blaming the Army as the military men had to obey orders of their officers. He said in the package it had been mentioned that cases would be withdrawn against Baloch leaders and workers except those who are involved in heinous crimes. “Who will draw the line between heinous and petty crimes?” he asked. He said some false cases of rocket firing were registered against innocent people during Musharraf’s tenure.

Shahid Bugti said it was wrong to dub struggle for rights as terrorism, saying he totally rejects this notion. He said the government has admitted that the military operations were still continuing in Balochistan. He said not only the Army, but the Frontier Constabulary (FC) should also be withdrawn from the province. “The FC is the root cause of all problems in Sui, Dera Bugti and other parts of Balochistan,” he said.

Moulvi Asmatullah said sincere efforts were not made in the past to resolve the Balochistan problem on a permanent basis. He was of the view the issue can be settled by giving due weightage to area in distribution of resources under the NFC award to ensure development of the province. He believed that release of political workers and recovery of missing persons was necessary to create an atmosphere conducive for political dialogue.

Mir Ahmadan Khan Bugti proposed that the National Assembly should have one seat each from every district of Balochistan so that the province could get proper attention during formation of the government.

He appreciated creation of 5,000 vacancies in the province but wanted more efforts to reduce poverty and unemployment. He said no military operation was being conducted in Dera Bugti. He, however, said the law-enforcement agencies have the right to defend themselves if targeted. He demanded that private jails in the province should be eliminated.

Minister for postal services Mir Israrullah Khan Zehri said the package contains a number of good things and welcomed the announcement of the government that it was not an alternative to provincial autonomy.

He demanded that cases against all political prisoners should be withdrawn and they should be released irrespective of charges against them. He hoped commitments made with regard to abolition of check-posts and conversion of B-Areas into A-Areas would be translated into reality.

He said there was some opposition to development of Gwadar as the local people fear that they might be turned into minority if labour was brought from other provinces. Surrayya Amiruddin congratulated the government for presenting a comprehensive package and said the rights of all those living in Balochistan, including settlers and Pashtuns, should also be safeguarded.

She said there was brain-drain from the province, especially from educational institutions, due to target killing of settlers. Haji Muhammad Adeel demanded that the provinces should be given more autonomy and the centre should keep only four subjects: defence, foreign affairs, currency and communications. He hoped Balochistan would get its due share of gas development surcharge under the new NFC award.

He said the military operation in some areas of the NWFP and Fata was for a just cause but operation was unnecessarily launched in Balochistan in the past. Tahira Aurangzeb urged all political leaders to visit Balochistan and enter into political dialogue with the tribal leaders. She demanded that the lives of the people of Balochistan should be protected and they should be brought into the national mainstream.

Rehana Yahya demanded that the people of Balochistan should be given control over the natural resources of province. She said the problem should be resolved through political means and rights of the province be safeguarded. She said the province needs more resources for development of its primitive infrastructure.

APP adds: The joint sitting also offered Fateha for the victims of Rawalpindi and Peshawar blasts. At the start of the joint session, Minister for Labour and Manpower Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah asked for offering Fateha for the blasts victims.

War Upon Pak Legal System Coincides with NRO Revelations–Coincidence?

[Court bombings and recent attempt on Chief Justice’s life, coinciding with NRO revelations, testimony that someone wants to disrupt whatever is running through the Court System right now.  It is not the militants who defrauded the state in this matter, but the politicians and the bureaucrats.  Convincing evidence of links between them and the bombers, don’t you think?]

11 die in suicide attack outside Peshawar court

By Javed Aziz Khan

PESHAWAR: Eleven people, including two policemen, were killed and 45 others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of the sessions courts here on Monday.

The attack was second of its kind outside the court buildings in less than three weeks. Earlier, a suicide bomber attacked the Judicial Complex on Khyber Road on Nov 19, killing 21 people, including policemen, and injuring 52 others.

The site of the Monday blast is next to the MPAs Hostel and opposite the Home Department building. It is in close proximity to the Governor House, the Peshawar Museum, the Civil Secretariat and the Central Prison. Windowpanes of the nearby buildings were smashed by the impact of the explosion.

Heavy police contingents cordoned off the site and traffic was diverted from Sher Shah Suri Road to the Railway Road immediately after the incident. Those coming to enquire about their relatives and those stranded on the court premises were not allowed to come close to the site following reports that there were threats of another attack. An eyewitness, Ashfaq Ahmad, told The News that a boy aged 16 or 17 came in an auto-rickshaw (registration number 7848) and rushed towards the sessions courts building around 12:30 pm.

“When a policeman challenged him to stop outside the gate, he detonated the explosives fastened on his body, causing a huge blast. The next moment there was nothing else but mutilated and burnt bodies and people lying in a pool of blood and crying for help,” recalled a visibly shaken, Ashfaq.

The dead were identified as assistant sub-inspector (ASI) police Rahimullah Jan, head constable Muhammad Naseer, who was a player of the NWFP Police cricket team, Irshad, Iftikhar Ahmad, Hussain Khan, Salman, Nauroz Khan, Sikandar Khan and Nadir Khan. The 11th was apparently the suicide bomber, though official handouts reported the death of 11 people in the attack.

At least 36 wounded people were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital, where emergency was declared. Doctors from other wards also rushed to the Emergency Department to treat the injured. Hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital to donate blood. Four of the injured were said to be in critical condition.

Horrible scenes were witnessed at the bombing site after the blast. Bodies and those critically-injured were seen lying all over the place on the Sher Shah Suri Road and inside the court building.

“Some cops were panicked by the blast. When I ran towards my car, they opened fire. Others pushed me back to the court building where a large number of people were already stranded due to the security arrangements for ministers, who were paying ‘useless’ visits to the blast site,” complained another eyewitness, Naseer Khan.

The blast also triggered a fire that engulfed several vehicles parked outside the court building. Ten cars and two auto-rickshaws were destroyed or partially damaged in fire. The car of this correspondent parked outside the court building was also slightly damaged in the blast.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) of the bomb disposal unit Tanveer Ahmad estimated that six to seven kilogrammes of explosives were used in the attack. “It was a suicide attack. Apart from explosives, a large number of ball bearings and bolts were used to cause maximum damage,” the official added.

NWFP Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour, while visiting the blast site and later enquiring after the health of the injured, said neither the US nor the Indian intelligence agency, RAW, were involved in these attacks.

“The attacks are being carried out by terrorists who are killing our children. Our generals are also being killed but Almighty Allah is with us and we will fight the terrorists. We will even sacrifice our lives for the defence of Pakistan,” the ruling ANP leader said.

NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti, Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain and Sports Minister Syed Aqil Shah also paid visits to the LRH to enquire after the health of the victims and attended the Namaz-e-Janaza of the two slain cops at the Police Lines.

The city police were already on alert after intelligence reports that three explosives-laden vehicles had been sent to carry out attacks in the city.Saddar Bazaar and parts of the old inner city remained sealed for a day but security was later relaxed keeping in view the problems being faced by the public.

“The police deployed at the entrance to the sessions courts building had been conveyed intelligence reports a couple of days back. The brave cops on duty had stated that they were ready to face any terrorist and would continue to perform their duty to protect the public,” a court official recalled a cop on the main gate telling him three days back. He added that the cops didn’t allow the suicide bomber to enter the court building and cause large-scale destruction.

Meanwhile, the United States Embassy in Pakistan, in a press release, condemned the bombing. “This vicious attack was yet another attack on the democratic institutions of Pakistan and the rule of law. We express our deep condolences to the victims’ families and pray for a speedy recovery of all those injured,” the statement added.

APP adds from Islamabad/Lahore: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani have strongly condemned the bomb blast in Peshawar.

In their separate messages, the president and the prime minister said such incidents of cowardice would not deter the government’s resolve to fight terrorism. They prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear the loss with equanimity. Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar and Patron-in-Chief of Tehrik Minhajul Qur’aan Dr Muhammad Tahirul Qadri also condemned the blast.