Haripur villagers threaten to protest school’s relocation



HARIPUR: Residents of villages in Chapra, Haripur have threatened to protest if Government Higher Secondary School for Girls is shifted to another area.  

The education department recently decided to shift higher secondary classes to a school in Noordi and has converted the school in Chapra into a high school.

Locals maintained the school in Chapra had been upgraded to a higher secondary school by then then provincial minister for education Qazi Muhammad Asad Khan in 2010. “He had also sanctioned funds of Rs20 million and constructed another wing next to the existing school,” said Haqnawaz Khan, a local villager.

Abdul Rasheed, another resident, said they have raised the matter with the education department. “However, we have been informed that the school is a high school and the new building in Chapra will not hold higher secondary classes,” he said.

Many villagers claim the decision has been influenced by political considerations.

“The department appears to be focusing on political point-scoring,” said Basit Khan, another villager. “It has forgotten that the school has allowed girls from 14 villages to get an education. This decision will prevent girls from gaining access to higher education.”


Capital punishment: Second Haripur prison inmate to be executed



HARIPUR: Shoaib Sarwar is likely to be moved to Adiala jail in Rawalpindi within the next 48 hours where he is expected to be hanged soon after, said insiders on Friday. A death warrant was issued and has been received by Central Prison Haripur authorities.

Shoaib has been incarcerated at Haripur jail since the past five years and is among 140 prisoners on death row. A resident of Wah Cantt and the son of Ghulam Sarwar, the inmate was prosecuted for murdering Awais Nawaz from the same area on January 21, 1996.

“Yes, we have received Shoaib’s death warrant from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa home department and as he is from Rawalpindi, he will be executed in his native district,” said an official of Haripur jail, requesting anonymity. The Haripur prison recently constructed its own gallows so it would execute the death penalty there.

According to insiders familiar with the matter, Shoaib will be shifted to Adiala jail within the next 48 hours and arrangements were being made to ensure he has one last meeting with his family.

A Rawalpindi district judge sentenced him to death in the first week of July, 1998.  His execution was put off with 8,500 other condemned prisoners across Pakistan following the moratorium by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led central government in 2008.

On September 6, 2014, Rawalpindi district and sessions judge Abdul Sattar issued a black warrant for Shoaib, asking Adiala jail authorities to execute him on September 18. However, a Rawalpindi bench of Lahore High Court placed a stay order on his death penalty two days prior to the day of execution. The order was based on the fact that Shoaib was part of a case against the death penalty pending with the apex court and that due to the moratorium, Shoaib had already spent 18 years—the equivalent of a life sentence—and so he should not be hanged till the case with the apex court was disposed.

The stay order was vacated, said Haripur jail authorities and the President of Pakistan turned down Shoaib’s mercy petition, leaving the previous order of the Rawalpindi district judge valid. The fresh warrant was received on Thursday through the K-P home department.

Shoaib will be the first convict of a non-terrorism related case and the second death row prisoner from Haripur jail to be hanged. Niaz Muhammad, a former junior Pakistan Air Force technician, was hanged in Peshawar in the early hours of January 1, 2015. He was sentenced to death in a terrorism case, convicted of attempting to attack former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2015.


Contrary to family wishes: Gallows being made at Haripur jail



ABBOTABAD: 

The gallows will be constructed at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) second largest jail, Central Prison Haripur, for the first time in 83 years.

Executions at the facility will begin over the next few weeks. “Yes, the construction is well under way and will be complete over the coming weeks,” an official familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune.

The official disclosed an 11-foot-deep and four-foot-wide ditch is almost ready while the structure of the noose is being set up and five new cells are being constructed for black warrant inmates. He added black warrants of two prisoners have already been received and the executions await construction work.

The two conditions

Constructed in 1932 by the British, the prison is spread over 890 kanals. The prison can house around 1,500 inmates but the average number of prisoners at the facility today soars at 1,900.

The land was donated by Bani Begum, a Tareen of Darwesh village. She was a distant relative of former president Ayub Khan and former provincial assembly speaker Habibullah Khan Tareen.

Family legend suggests the land was provided on two conditions—the prison will not be equipped with the gallows and that no woman would be detained at the facility.

Although the agreement was never penned down, elders of the Tareen clan say governments in the past have honoured her word and all executions were instead carried out at Abbottabad District Jail until 2005, when the building succumbed to the devastating earthquake. Later the government imposed a moratorium on executions and the gallows were padlocked all across the country.

One of the conditions was violated when the women’s section was set up in 2005. With the construction of the gallows at the prison, Bani Begum’s second condition will also be violated after it was upheld for 83 years.

Security concerns

The barbaric Army Public School attack in Peshawar led to a suspension of the moratorium on executions as the government announced its intentions to deal a decisive blow to militants.

Central Prison Haripur houses some of the most dangerous criminals of the country and recent jailbreaks in Bannu and DI Khan have given rise to major security concerns. There have been occasions in the past when the government had to shift prisoners to Mansehra and Peshawar following threats of attacks at the prison. The government was particularly in a pickle with Niaz Muhammad, one of the convicts of the Musharraf attack case. His execution was delayed time and again, over security concerns and was finally carried out in Peshawar two weeks ago.

The construction of the gallows at the Central Prison Haripur suggests the government has decided to hang convicts at the facility itself and avoid unnecessary movement of prisoners.

Central Prison Haripur at the moment houses 141 convicted prisoners who have been sentenced to death with mercy petitions of 25 pending with the President’s office. The jail is being manned by additional security personnel and executions are expected to begin any time in the approaching weeks. The jail superintendent was not available for a comment despite repeated attempts.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2015.


To the gallows: Haripur jail receives death warrant for Niaz Muhammad



ABBOTABAD: The jail administration of Central Prison Haripur has received the death warrant for the execution of Niaz Muhammad on Sunday. He is expected to be shifted to a jail in either Peshawar or Rawalpindi, insiders told The Express Tribune.  

Muhammad is the co-accused in the assassination attempt on former army chief and president General Pervez Musharraf on December 14, 2003 in Rawalpindi. At the time of his arrest, Muhammad was a junior technician in the Pakistan Airforce. Field General Court Martial sentenced Muhammad and his five accomplices to death in October 2005 after a trial spanning a year.

His black warrant was issued by a military court a couple of days ago. Insiders said he was given the opportunity to file a mercy petition. However, he refused to do so and instead asked his lawyer to file a fresh appeal with the apex court on December 12, insiders have revealed.

According to insiders, the defence failed to produce documentary proof in court. Following his refusal to file a mercy petition, the jail administration has written to the home department for further process. Once the letter has been received, the home department will transfer Muhammad to either Peshawar or Rawalpindi jail within 24 hours.  After Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the six-year moratorium on death penalty for prisoners in terrorism cases, convicts are being executed in different jails across the country.

Those familiar with the matter say Muhammad is among six out of 141 inmates at Central Prison Haripur who are on death row. The convict filed an appeal before the Lahore High Court against conviction which was rejected in March 2006 and another appeal in the Supreme Court was turned down in September 2006. Muhammad’s review petition before the SC was also dismissed in March 2011.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2014.


Hanging in the balance; Students suffer as Haripur university without statutory bodies



HARIPUR: 

The future of over 300 PhD and MPhil students at the University of Haripur (UOH) hangs in the balance as the degree-awarding process has been repeatedly delayed in the absence of statutes, insiders told The Express Tribune. 

According to official sources, most of these students have completed their coursework and research while others have submitted their theses but have not been awarded their degrees.

Dr Nasir Ali Khan, the vice chancellor of UoH, confirmed a 19-member university senate has been operational but without regulations, the Advance Studies & Research Board (ASRB), selection committee and academic council are not functional.

The ASRB is meant to accept and approve students’ research proposals, appoint their supervisors or approve degrees. At least 15 PhD students started their research work based on provisional approval and submitted their theses but have not been accepted.

Unless statutes are approved by the chancellor—an office held by the governor—degrees cannot be awarded, added Khan.

Khan has written to the chancellor twice and urged the minister for higher education to take prompt action. However, they have yet to set a date for a meeting to discuss the matter. As a result, no new universities in the province have formulated statutory bodies.

In the absence of a statutory mechanism, the university has denied admissions to fresh candidates interested in pursuing advanced studies over the last two years.

“The UOH is in fact a college-level institution that is offering just bachelor’s level courses rather than advanced-level courses for which it was established,” said a faculty member at UOH.

In the lurch

Khan added another problem with awarding degrees is that most research students had not met the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) requirement of passing the Graduate Assessment Test (GAT) prior to being admitted to university. Khan said research students who had been registered before he seized the reins were allowed to continue their studies but were told they will only obtain their degree after they sit the GAT.

Earlier, in May 2013, the administration declared the admissions of over 220 students null and void and stopped them from appearing in exams until they passed the GAT. Students protested and also took the matter to court. The court allowed students to continue their studies but also told them to sit for the GAT.

Politically motivated?

Moreover, faculty members and clerical staff who have been hired on a contractual basis over the last two years were employed on purely political grounds, said insiders. Those familiar with the matter claim 80% of employees have been hired through this arrangement.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2014.


Back with a vengeance: Dengue reportedly claims constable’s life in Haripur



HARIPUR: 

A police constable reportedly succumbed to dengue, while 12 out of 60 suspected cases have been diagnosed with the virus by the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, official sources claimed on Tuesday.

Moreover, 15 people were admitted to the isolation ward of the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital with high fever.

However, Haripur District Health Officer Dr Zakim Khan denied that a constable died at any health facility in Haripur and that too of dengue.

Sources at the DHQ Haripur said over 60 suspected cases were registered over the last two-and-a-half weeks and majority of them were from Khalabat Township, a settlement of displaced people from Tarbela living on the left bank of the reservoir. Individuals from Sera-e-Nehmat Khan, Pind Gujran in Khanpur, Kot Najibullah have also come to hospital with high fever.

The hospital source said most suspected cases, running temperature between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, were treated and discharged. However, eight women and seven men, who came to the hospital over the last four days, were still being treated at the dengue ward.

He claimed Constable Shehzad from Kot Najibullah village died on Sunday night. Shehzad was admitted to the DHQ for over four days and was later referred to Ayub Medical Complex in Abbottabad.

Meanwhile, dengue ward in charge Dr Nasir Mehmood confirmed that around 15 people with high fever were admitted, but added none of them had tested positive for dengue as yet. “They are suffering from a fever of unknown origin (FUO) and blood samples have been sent to the NIH which has not sent any confirmation yet,” he added.

About the police officer, Mehmood said the patient came in with high fever, but the NIH had yet to confirm if his samples tested positive for dengue. He also denied that the patient died at the DHQ.

Commenting on the situation, Haripur District Health Officer Dr Zakim Khan said over 30 suspected cases were registered during the months of August and September and eight patients tested positive for the virus.

However, he said all of them had been treated and had recovered fully. He denied that the police constable was dengue positive. The DHO said although he had not studied the constable’s file, it was certain that the policeman was not suffering from dengue and could have died from another ailment.

When contacted, Abbottabad Ayub Medical Complex Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr Abdul Manan also denied that a police constable died at the AMC recently.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2014.


Stigmatised: Woman commits suicide following divorce in Haripur



HARIPUR: 

A woman allegedly committed suicide over a marital dispute by jumping into a well in Dingi union council of Haripur, shared police officials on Sunday.

According to residents and police, the woman committed suicide after her husband divorced her.

Police said 31-year-old Shah Watan Bibi married Jamshed four years ago and the couple had a daughter.

However, according to family sources, Jamshed was upset with his wife and would give her a hard time for not bearing a son.

On Saturday, the couple reportedly quarreled over a minor dispute and Jamshed, after beating Bibi, said he was divorcing her. He then forced her to move to her parents’ home in Gulshanabad Dingi village.

Traumatised, Bibi jumped into a well on Sunday morning, according to her family members.

Villagers retrieved Bibi’s body and took her to a hospital where doctors pronounced her dead. They claimed she had been seriously depressed afterher divorce.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2014.


Police official allegedly rapes woman in Haripur



HARIPUR: A police official allegedly raped a woman and then threw her down from the hill-top of a village in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Haripur district, Express News reported on Wednesday.

The incident took place in Sirikot, which is a village in Ghazi tehsil of the district.

The 22-year-old was taken to a local hospital in critical condition for medical treatment.

An FIR was registered against the police official, who is a resident of Swabi.

The policeman has managed to flee and further investigations into the incident are underway.


Celebrating wheat harvest: Jashn-e-Khari Gandgar to bring more festivities for Haripur



HARIPUR: 

The three-day Jashn-e-Khari Gandgar festival kicked off on the grounds of Khalo cattle market in Ghazi tehsil. 

Similar to Jashn-e-Hazara, Khari Gandgar attracts thousands of spectators from Ghazi’s eight union councils and adjoining areas of Chach in Attock district, Hasan Abdal tehsil, Taxila and Gadoon Amazai every year.

Chief guest of the occasion, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA from Haripur-IV and District Development Advisory Committee Chairman Faisal Zaman inaugurated the event on Saturday.

The administration arranges the festival every year at the onset of summer or the wheat harvesting season. It will include horse shows, bull races and other sporting activities along with cultural shows.  The festival started during the Sikh era and is named after ‘Koh-e-Khari Gandgar’ – the mountain range that overlooks the population of Ghazi tehsil and Tarbela Dam on its west and the villages of Gadwalian, Sari, Pandori, Bhera, Panian and Baka
on its east. 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2014.


Illegal substances: Poppy continues to be grown in Haripur despite ban



HARIPUR: 

Despite restrictions on the cultivation of poppy by the government, farmers in Nara Amazai and Bait Gali tehsils of Haripur continue to defy the ban and grow the crop, which is mostly used for narcotics.

DSP Ghazi tehsil Ishtiaq Khan said while talking to The Express Tribune that he led a raid party to Balongi village in Bait Gali and found eight kanals of land with mature poppy plants. As per the government’s policy, he added, the crop was completely destroyed and the flowers sent to laboratories for further reports.

The DSP said a criminal case was registered against five farmers; however, he added that the accused were on the run from the police.

He said there is information about the crop being grown in certain other areas and the farmers have been asked to destroy the crop voluntarily within a couple of days, or they will be severely punished. The DSP added that Ghazi police had destroyed the crop in the region last year as well and registered cases against over a dozen farmers.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2014.