Pakistan senate to elect chairman today and Blasphemy cases spike in Lahore

Women participating in Pashtun march in Quetta, Balochistan
Women participating in Pashtun march in Quetta, Balochistan | @shaay_baloch twitter handle

“Go to Pakistan” has become the favourite slur of ultra-nationalists for anyone challenging the establishment view – on issues ranging from national security to terrorism, from which meat you eat to which cricket team you should play with or support, and what you write or tweet to triple talaq.

But imagine for a moment, if you indeed go to Pakistan, what will you find there? Will it merely affirm all stereotypes? Radicalism, violent Lashkars and a vile deep state are all realities in Pakistan. But it is also a large nation of 20 crore people with fascinating politics, diplomacy, economy, society, culture, cricket and fashion, and flourishing litfests. And so much intrigue!

‘Go To Pakistan’, ThePrint’s prolific new feature, will take you there, beyond the big, obvious headlines, and bring you significant happenings that no one else will. So fasten your seat belts. And Go To Pakistan.

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Most cases of blasphemy in Pakistan filed in Lahore

Around 74 per cent of cases related to blasphemy in Pakistan originate from Punjab, NGO Center for Social Justice, Pakistan (CSJ Pak) told the Vatican’s Fides news agency. Lahore district in Punjab alone accounted for over 11 per cent of the cases, and 14 of the 75 blasphemy-related killings until January 2018, the NGO said. “The stories of men and women of different faiths present shocking accounts of brutality and enormous suffering of helpless victims,” said CSJ Pak executive director Peter Jacob told Fides

Son of Pak Taliban chief killed in US drone strike in Afghanistan

The son of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah was among 20 suspected militants killed in a US drone strike in Kunwar, Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, on 8 March. According to a text sent by the TTP to a Pakistani media agency, six others were wounded in the attack. The TTP said the Afghan intelligence agency had tipped the US off about their presence in the area.

Senate to elect new chairman and deputy chairman today

The Pakistani Senate, the country’s upper house of Parliament, will hold a secret ballot today to elect its chairman and deputy chairman. After a party meeting Sunday chaired by former PM Nawaz Sharif, the country’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and its allies agreed to nominate Raja Zafarul Haq of the PML (M) for the chairman’s post and Usman Kakar of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) for the deputy chairman’s.

Haq faces competition from independent Sadiq Sanjrani, the Balochistan representative who enjoys the support of opposition parties PPP and PTI. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto added that party member Saleem Mandviwalla was the opposition candidate for the deputy chairman’s post.

Pashtun protection movement rally ‘blacked out’

The Pashtuns of Pakistan took to the streets again after the long march, making their way to Quetta this Sunday to demand an end to the atrocities being inflicted upon residents of the FATA region in the name of the “war on terror”. However, many citizens reported that mobile signals had been jammed in Quetta to allegedly stop the broadcast of the march, part of the Pashtun Protection Movement, in the media. Journalists have also reported receiving death threats from unknown phone numbers for covering the march. The march in Quetta also saw stronger participation by women.

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