How an iftar party led to the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief

In this file photo, a Pakistani journalist watches a video of radical Pakistani cleric Maulana Fazlullah in Peshawar on July 23, 2010. (A. Majeed/AFP)
Updated 15 June 2018

How an iftar party led to the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief

  • Mullah Fazlullah was killed on June 13 by an American drone strike
  • As soon as he entered his vehicle, a rocket fired from a US drone struck the car

DUBAI: Fazal Hayat, more commonly known as Mullah Fazlullah, the fugitive leader of the outlawed militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was killed on June 13 by an American drone strike. Arab News can reveal he was returning from an iftar party in the Marawara district of Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province.
According to an intelligence report seen by Arab News, Fazlullah was leaving the former militant center of the TTP at Bachai Markaz, in district Marwara, Kunar Province. He had Iftar and offered “Tiraveh” at the same center on June 13, 2018.
Fazlullah reportedly left the center around 10:45 p.m., but as soon as he entered his vehicle, a rocket fired from a US drone struck the car, killing Fazlullah and his guards.
Another TTP commander, Qari Yasir, was also among the dead, according to the report. The five men who died in the drone attack were buried in Bachai Graveyard early in the morning of June 14.
Fazlullah was reportedly a key topic of conversation during the official visit of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Naveed Mukhtar, director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, to Afghanistan on June 12, when he discussed the political and military situation in the region with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission.
“This news today of a US drone targeting the TTP chief is an indication of some kind of ‘thaw’ between Pakistan and the USA,” an official who was part of the Pakistani delegation told Arab News, on condition of anonymity.
Bajwa’s visit came days after the Afghan Taliban announcement on June 9 of a three-day cease-fire over Eid Al-Fitr, the first truce of its kind offered by the Taliban since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Fazlullah, who escaped a major counter-terror operation carried out by the Pakistani military in the northwestern Swat Valley in 2009, had since regrouped his fighters in the border region of Afghanistan, according to security officials.
He is believed to have been responsible for a number of atrocities, including the 2014 attack on an army-run school in Peshawar that resulted in the deaths of almost 150 students and teachers, and ordering an assassination attempt on Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai in Swat in 2012.
Fazlullah was appointed TTP chief after a US drone strike killed his predecessor Hakimullah Mehsud in the North Waziristan region in November 2013.
Fazlullah’s 17-year-old son Abdullah and 20 other militants were reportedly killed in another US drone strike in Kunar in March this year.
Fazlullah’s deputy, Noor Wali Mehsud, will most likely be his successor, according to a TTP source.
Mehsud, 40, was the TTP’s Karachi chief from June 2013 until May 2015 and is the author of the book “Inqilab-e-Mehsud,” in which he claimed to have assassinated former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
— Naimat Khan in Karachi and Tahir Khan in Islamabad contributed to this story.


Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

Visitors try out food at 'Bengaluru Aaharotsava', a 3-day vegetarian food festival, in Bangalore on October 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 October 2019

Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

  • This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party

NEW DELHI: India’s poor rating in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) has come in for sharp criticism, with the opposition calling it a “colossal failure of government policy.”
The GHI showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.
The index is designed to measure and track hunger at a global, regional, and national level. The report, which was released on Wednesday, was a joint effort between Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfe.
“This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party.
Thomas Isaac, finance minister in the southern state of Kerala, said: “The slide started with PM (Narendra) Modi’s ascension. In 2014 India was ranked 55. In 2017 it slipped to 100 and now to the levels of Niger and Sierra Leone. The majority of the world’s hungry now resides in India.”
The GHI score is based on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (children below five who have a low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and child mortality, the mortality rate of children under the age of five.
“India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 percent, the highest for any country,” the report said. It added that, with a score of 30.3, India suffered from a level of hunger that was serious.

BACKGROUND

The Global Hunger Index showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.

International NGO Save the Children  said the government needed to focus on wasting and stunting. Other low- and middle-income countries in the world which are faring better have actually scored better than India in those two areas, it added.
“There are nearly 1.8 million children in the country who are wasting and for that we will need comprehensive interventions, including the provision of therapeutic foods for such children to be managed at a community level,” it told Arab News.
The NGO warned of serious social consequences, with wasting leading to impaired cognitive ability and poor learning outcomes. “Furthermore, for underweight and stunted girls, it invokes a vicious cycle whereby initial malnutrition with early child-bearing gets translated into poor reproductive health outcomes.”
Arab News contacted the Child and Family Welfare Ministry for comment but did not get a response.
Nepal ranks 73 in the index, Sri Lanka is placed at 66, Bangladesh is in 88th place, Myanmar is at the 69th spot and Pakistan ranks 94.
The GHI said these countries were also in the serious hunger category, but that their citizens fared better than India’s.