Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pakistani Computer Scientist Helps Fight Terror

Simulation software developed by Fulbright scholar Zeeshan Usmani is helping investigators analyze bombings and pursue perpetrators of terror in Pakistan. Usmani is the product of currently the world's biggest Fulbright program being offered in Pakistan, with approximately 200 scholarships for advanced degrees in 2011 alone.

Usmani collaborated with Daniel Kirk at Florida Institute of Technology to develop Usmani-Kirk model for analyzing suicide bomb blasts. The model uses various inputs like before-and-after video footage, bombing debris, chemical residues, victims' injuries, casualty patterns, autopsy data and other available clues about suspects and forensic data to piece together the details of each incident and to help identify the cause and the perpetrators.



Upon returning to Pakistan with a doctoral degree, Usmani was introduced by a business executive Adnan Asdar to Karachi's senior police officials who were investigating the Ashura bombing of 28 December, 2009. The police immediately asked him to help.

Before Usmani showed up at the scene, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rahman Malik had already told the media that it was a suicide bombing orchestrated by the TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), and the TTP had accepted responsibility for the "suicide bombing". Usmani took one look at the scene near the banyan tree at the Lighthouse Center and concluded that the casualty pattern did not support Malik's conclusion. Usmani's assertion gained support when Faisal Edhi, son of Abdus Sattar Edhi of Edhi Foundation, and later FIA investigators noticed a large quantity of heavy steel nuts strewn at the scene, according to Steve Inskeep who has described the incident in his recent book about Karachi titled "The Instant City". The steel nuts were too heavy to have been carried by suicide bombers who typically use ball bearings as shrapnel in their explosive vests to inflict maximum casualties. Other metal fragments found at the scene were understood to have come from a metal box that could be seen next to an Edhi ambulance before the blast but not in the post-blast video footage. This metal box apparently contained the explosives and the steel nuts. A body believed by the police to be of the suicide bomber was later confirmed as the body of a boy scout killed in the blast.



Usmani's analysis and detailed presentation persuaded the investigators that it was a remote controlled bomb rather than a suicide bomber that did the damage, and it was most likely perpetrated by a local sectarian outfit, not the TTP who target the security forces rather than ordinary citizens.

Faced with the ruthless and resourceful enemies of the state, Pakistani law-enforcement is in serious need of good intelligence work and competent professional investigators equipped with modern tools and capabilities to bring a semblance of peace and security in Pakistan. What Usmani is doing needs to be developed and replicated across the country. I hope Pakistani state will identify and make full use of all available talent in this area of expertise.

Here's a video of Usmani's presentation at TEDx Lahore:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

CSI Pakistan

Pakistan Needs Police Reform

Pakistanis Studying Abroad

Sialkot Lynching

Intelligence Failures Amidst Daily Carnage

Quality of Higher Education in India and Pakistan

Developing Pakistan's Intellectual Capital

Intellectual Wealth of Nations

Pakistan's Story After 64 Years of Independence

Pakistan Ahead of India on Key Human Development Indices

Scholarships at Foreign Universities

Institute of International Education--Open Doors

UK's Higher Education Statistics Agency Report

Austrade on Education in Pakistan

14 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report about a tough Karachi cop:

If the lucky really have nine lives, then Chaudhry Aslam Khan, Karachi's toughest policeman, is fast running out of his.

One morning in September, Aslam was sleeping when powerful shockwaves rippled through his house. Falling out of bed, he discovered that a Taliban suicide bomber had rammed a van into his front gate, with devastating consequences.

The blast sheared off the entire front of his palatial home. Windows were shattered across Defence, one of the city's most pricey neighbourhoods. And eight people lay dead: policemen, house guards and a mother and child who had been strolling to school.

Stepping through the rubble and blood, Aslam, who had survived eight previous attempts on his life, helped load the dead and injured into ambulances. (Miraculously, his own family was largely unhurt.) Then he turned to face the media with an extraordinary message of defiance.

"I will bury the attackers right here," he told the cameras, pointing to the two-metre-deep bomb crater, and vowing to launch his own "jihad" against his assailants. "I didn't know the terrorists were such cowards. Why don't they attack me in the open?" Then, sleepless and smeared in dust, he turned on his heel and went back to work.

Crime-fighting in Karachi, a sprawling seaside metropolis racked by a witch's brew of violence – ethnic, political, religious, criminal – has never been easy. So far this year, more than 400 people have died in shootings linked to a political power struggle. A surge in Taliban violence pumped the death toll further.

Few know the dark streets as well as Aslam, a grizzled police veteran of 27 years' experience. Profane, chain-smoking and usually armed with a Glock pistol, he has earned a controversial reputation as Karachi's version of Dirty Harry – the cop who will do whatever it takes to keep the peace.
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Last year, they killed Rehman Dakait, a legendary Baloch gangster, in self defence in what was described as a shootout on the city limits. The dead man's relatives have another version: that he was arrested, tortured and shot in cold blood – circumstances Pakistanis euphemistically refer to as an "encounter". It was not the first such accusation against Aslam: he spent 18 months in jail in 2006 after being accused of killing an innocent man; a superior court later cleared him.

Working from an unmarked compound with military-style defences, Aslam roams Karachi at night in an armoured jeep. Protection comes from a team of heavily armed officers, many of whom resemble the gangsters they are pursuing: like their boss, they do not wear uniforms.

He typically works through the night because, he says, "that's when the criminals are out and about". He is proud of his gunslinging reputation. He has earned 45m rupees (£325,000) in government rewards over the years, he says, producing copies of the cheques to prove it.
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Although flamboyant, Aslam is by no means unique among Pakistani police. A 2008 report by the International Crisis Group said they had "a well-deserved reputation for corruption, high-handedness and abuse of human rights". Officers retort that they are under-resourced (Karachi has 26,000 officers for perhaps 18 million people) and labour under a sickly criminal justice system with a conviction rate of 5-10%.

And, in a city where crime, politics and ethnicity are inter-connected, police suffer from massive interference: even junior appointments are controlled by politicians who pressure officers to go easy on their favourite gangsters. "It's a totally politicised force," admitted Sharifuddin Memon, an adviser to the provincial home minister...............


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/10/pakistan-toughest-cop-bury-taliban?newsfeed=true

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn story on "Karachi-The Musical" drawing large audiences in Karachi:

KARACHI: A hit musical about gangland violence in Pakistan’s largest metropolis is bidding to revive Karachi’s once-rich stage culture while shedding light on its grim addiction to violence.

Fierce sectarian and ethnic conflicts have been responsible for the deaths of more than 1,000 people this year alone and are an all-too-familiar tale to Karachi’s 18 million residents.

But the gritty realism portrayed in “Karachi – The Musical” has nevertheless provoked a huge response, playing to large audiences since it began in October for a month-long run due to finish on November 13.

It tells the story of a rookie boxer from the eastern city of Multan who comes to train at a boxing club in Karachi’s notorious Lyari neighbourhood – better known for its mafias than its sporting talent.

The ambitions of the protagonist, Saif Salaam, spark tensions between his coach and Daud Islam, a mafia don who controls the local gambling, drugs and prostitution rings and wants to thwart the boxer’s success.

With many twists and turns in the story set to a dozen songs, Daud attempts to kill Salaam, just as he had murdered another rising star 20 years earlier.

Mirroring grim realities on Karachi’s streets, the mafioso Daud is only stopped from killing the boy thanks to the intervention of another bad man – a more powerful don whose influence reaches higher into the corridors of power.

“It depicts the situation which we are facing nowadays,” said one theatre-goer, Aleem Akhtar.

“We are infested with mafias and gangs of killers and every mafia is well protected, so we can survive only with the blessings of some good bad men.”

The director of the first original musical to grace the city said that the show represented a defence against the very harshness it was based on.

“Today, art needs more support than ever in Pakistan because it is not only a reflection of the times we live in, but also of a brighter future we can create,” said Nida Butt.

“Theatre is not for the faint-hearted – it’s a labour of love, long hours and hard work that often results in more (money) spent than earned,” she added.

The once-thriving stage scene in Karachi, which was known for its opera before the partition of British India to create Pakistan in 1947, was lost largely due to the growing Islamisation of the country, say artists.

They particularly point the finger at military dictator General Zia-ul Haq, blaming him for worsening the gun and drug culture, encouraging sectarian and ethnic parties and crushing liberal forces during his 1977-1988 rules.

Art began losing its way under Zia’s predecessor Ayub Khan, they say, but it crumbled as culture became an early casualty of Zia’s regime, which nurtured religious fanaticism.

Syed Ahmed Shah, who heads the Karachi Arts Council and whose theatre is staging the production, says his organisation is the only one with a dedicated auditorium for plays and theatrical performances in Pakistan’s biggest city.

“Our resolve is to fully revive the city’s old cultural status so that it is here to stay,” he said.

“Particularly in a situation where fear and anxiety are the order of the day. Culture is the only remedy to rely on,” he said.

Hamza Jafri, who composed the original scores, said that “Karachi – The Musical” drew on the various strands of the city’s musical culture – a mix of rock opera, indigenous beats and big band jazz.

“The music is edgy, contemporary and completely inspired by our research into Lyari and the boxing gangs there. The songs talk about us, about Karachi and our lives in this city today,” he said..........


http://www.dawn.com/2011/11/10/karachi-musical-makes-song-and-dance-of-gang-wars.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from Christian Science Monitor report on recent decline in terror attacks and casualties in Pakistan:

A downturn in major terror attacks in the second half of the year and an overall decrease in civilian casualties at the hands of terrorists point to better policing and a gradual decline in the potency of militant groups, say officials and experts.

"Earlier, the Taliban would come with heavy weapons and attack and kill and slaughter at will. Those days are gone," says Fiaz Toru, former inspector general for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, credited with implementing a set of sweeping reforms to combat the threat posed by terrorists surrounding the province's main city of Peshawar.

In Pakistan's major cities, there have been no spectacular attacks since a daring siege carried out over two days by Taliban militants on a Karachi naval base in May in revenge for the bin Laden raid. Some 1,022 civilians have fallen victim to bomb attacks in 2011. Barring a late-year surge, this represents the lowest figure in four years, according to monitoring conducted by the New Delhi-based South Asia Terrorism Portal (last year the figure was 1,547, and it stood at 1,688 the year before).

A major part of that has to do with the removal of soft targets, says Rifaat Hussain, a security analyst at the Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad: "They [now] have genuine difficulty carrying out spectacular attacks."

In Peshawar, that has meant equipping police with heavy weaponry including mortars, grenade launchers, and heavy guns, as well as deploying some 2,000 police at more than 42 checkpoints on the outskirts of the city, says Mr. Toru, the former inspector general, and arming citizens to create a community police force that can act as authorities' eyes and ears.

"We've adopted a policy of proactive policing," explains Toru. Police are now routinely sent on operations in Peshawar's suburbs to root out suspected militants and materials used to construct bombs. The police's increasing responsibility has been accompanied by a doubling of salary and an increase in "martyrdom payout" (a kind of life-insurance payout that now stands at some $35,000). Perhaps, too, the Pakistani Taliban are aware of the cost of suicide attacks, adds Dr. Hussain: Where once the public sympathized with militants, groups that carry out suicide attacks are now ostracized.
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Still, the overall picture is far from rosy: While organized terror strikes may be down, sectarian attacks carried out largely by LeJ against Shiite targets have in fact surged, particularly in the western province of Balochistan.

"The cities seem to be ominously quiet right now, but sectarian violence [in other areas] continues. A key test will be Muharram – how peaceful or how violent that will be," says Hussain, referring to the first month of the Islamic calendar, in which fighting is prohibited.

And while Pakistan's security forces may have gotten better at dealing with terrorism, Toru says internal reforms can only go so far. "I am optimistic, but the key lies in Afghanistan.… You need a stable Afghanistan to have a stable Pakistan. But we've come through the most critical phase of our struggle."


http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2011/1123/In-Pakistan-downturn-in-major-Taliban-attacks-brings-cautious-optimism

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story of a Pakistani young man of humble origins helping terror victims after studying Emergency Medicine at Yale:

.Today, Razzak is a renowned emergency medicine expert and the executive director of the Aman Foundation. He started his schooling at a humble primary school in Lyari, completing his secondary education from Nasira School in Depot Lines. Not one to be held back, the hard-working student subsequently attended Adamjee Science College where his impressive grades and unbounded enthusiasm won him a scholarship at the prestigious Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), the top private medical institution in the country.
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In collaboration with the Edhi Ambulance Service, an arm of the philanthropic Edhi organisation and the largest volunteer ambulance network in the world, he researched and analysed road traffic injuries and emergency cases. Edhi had a mountain of documentation for every call and every case it had handled in the last two decades. The downside? None of it was digitised, so he spent days sifting through it manually.

The experience stayed with him, and the data revealed a disturbing pattern. Gruesome injuries, often suffered by the poorest members of society, were often improperly handled by well-meaning doctors, simply because of a lack of know-how. These mistakes frequently, and literally, led to the loss of life and limb.

Yet, Razzak soon realised that he needed more professional training and specialisation courses before he could progress further. He sat for the US Medical Licensing Exams (MLE) and had observations at the Beth Israel Medical Centre, New York, and the Yale-New Haven Hospital, Connecticut. In 1996, his residency and training programme at Yale University’s School of Medicine started and in 1999, he was given the ‘Best Trainee’ award by the State of Connecticut.

On the personal front, Yale was also important for the doctor since he met his future wife there. Following graduation, the two stayed in the US for a few years, always looking forward to the time when they would return home. “The plan was always to come back,” says Razzak. “That’s why we never bought a house, never completely settled in.”

Before they could come back, Razzak did his PhD in Public Health at the world-renowned Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, where he focused on the use of ambulance data for monitoring road traffic accidents. Finally, in 2005, the studious boy from Kharadar returned to Pakistan as a successful, qualified expert in emergency medicine.

He joined his alma mater, AKUH as a faculty member and went on to successfully found Pakistan’s first emergency medicine service (EMS) training programme at the university. “There were many doctors who were awarded their degrees without ever administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as it wasn’t a requirement,” he reveals.

This changed when his EMS programme became a mandatory rotation that all students had to serve. Subsequently, Razzak went on to build and head a new emergency department. Yet, the battle was just half won. Students in the new department faced a dilemma, similar to the one Razzak had as a student. They were required to go to the United Kingdom to sit for their exam, otherwise they would not be considered qualified.
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Determined to remove, for others, the hurdles that he himself had crossed only after many toils, Razzak collaborated with the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) to organise a curriculum for the specialised field. The first batch for this course was enrolled last year. Now students wanting to specialise in emergency medicine will be able to obtain certification in their chosen field, without having to travel abroad....


http://tribune.com.pk/story/300042/positive-pakistani-call-of-duty/

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Taliban battered and splintering, reports AP-CBS:

Battered by Pakistani military operations and U.S. drone strikes, the once-formidable Pakistani Taliban has splintered into more than 100 smaller factions, weakened and is running short of cash, according to security officials, analysts and tribesmen from the insurgent heartland.

The group, allied with al-Qaida and based in the northwest close to the Afghan border, has been behind much of the violence tearing apart Pakistan over the last 4 1/2 years. Known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP, the Taliban want to oust the U.S.-backed government and install a hard-line Islamist regime. They also have international ambitions and trained the Pakistani-American who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York City's Times Square in 2010.

"Today, the command structure of the TTP is splintered, weak and divided and they are running out of money," said Mansur Mahsud, a senior researcher at the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) Research Center. "In the bigger picture, this helps the army and the government because the Taliban are now divided."

The first signs of cracks within the Pakistani Taliban appeared after its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a drone strike in August 2009, Mahsud said. Since then, the group has steadily deteriorated.

Set up in 2007, the Pakistani Taliban is an umbrella organization created to represent roughly 40 insurgent groups in the tribal belt plus al-Qaida-linked groups headquartered in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province.

"In the different areas, leaders are making their own peace talks with the government," Mahsud added. "It could help the Pakistani government and military separate more leaders from the TTP and more foot soldiers from their commanders."

The two biggest factors hammering away at the Taliban's unity are U.S. drone strikes and Pakistani army operations in the tribal region.

Turf wars have flared as militants fleeing the Pakistani military operations have moved into territory controlled by other militants, sometimes sparking clashes between groups. And as leaders have been killed either by drones or the Pakistani army, lieutenants have fought among themselves over who will replace them.

"The disintegration ... has accelerated with the Pakistan military operation in South Waziristan and the drone attacks by the United States in North Waziristan," Mahsud said, referring to the two tribal agencies that are the heartland of the Pakistani Taliban.

Another factor is the divide-and-conquer strategy Pakistan's military has long employed in its dealings with militants. Commanders have broken away from the TTP and set up their own factions, weakening the organization. Battles have broken out among the breakaway factions, and in one particularly remote tribal region the TTP was thrown out. These growing signs of fissures among the disparate groups that make up the Pakistani Taliban indicate the military's strategy could be paying off.
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Analysts predict that over time, however, the internecine feuding in the Pakistani Taliban will take a toll on militants fighting in Afghanistan, making it increasingly difficult for them to find recruits and restricting territory available to them.
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Cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan suffered a serious setback a week ago when NATO aircraft killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two border posts. The Nov. 26 incident seems certain to blunt any prospect of Pakistan taking direct steps to curb the Haqqani network, analysts say.
-----------....


http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501712_162-57336276/pakistani-taliban-splintering-into-factions/

Riaz Haq said...

No major incidents on Ashura this year in Pakistan, reports Express Tribune:

Shia Muslims across Pakistan participated in Ashura processions taken out on the 10th of Muharram amid tight security arrangements, Express News reported on Tuesday.

The main Ashura procession in Karachi began from Nishtar Park and headed towards Tibet Centre for Zuhrain prayers and concluded at Kharadar. In Lahore, the procession began from Nisar Haveli and ended at Karbala Gamay Shah.

In Faisalabad, the procession began from Markazi Imam Bargah with thousands of Shia Muslims headed towards Rail Bazar for the Majlis. The procession then returned to the Imam Bargah at night for Sham-e-Ghareeban.

Around 8,000 police personnel were been deployed on procession routes with walk-through gates, metal detectors and mobile jammers. More than 25 CCTV cameras have also been installed in various areas and security personnel have been deployed on high buildings for security.

In Hyderabad, the procession began from Imam Bargah Qadam Gah Mola Ali and covered a distance of 1.5km up to the Station Road. All 58 streets leading to the main procession were secured with barbed wires and tents. Twelve security cameras and jammers, covering areas of 90 metres, were also been put into place.

Only two entrance and exits points have been given to the main procession at Bacha Khan Chowk and Sarfraz Colony.

Processions in other cities including Quetta, Sukkur, Multan, Peshawar, Jhang and Dera Ismail Khan also concluded peacefully.

Wassan assures security to remain ‘strict’ during Ashura

Sindh Home Minister Manzoor Wassan assured the media on Tuesday that the law and order situation will remain in control during the Ashura processions as the police and Rangers are on high-alert.

He addressed the media at the Tibet Centre in Karachi while inspecting the site for security arrangements.

Wassan said that the terrorists targeted the Lines Area on Monday and the Kala Pul on Tuesday with minor blasts in order to instill fear among the people; however, the security arrangements all over the country are strict enough to control such incidents.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/302964/ashura-processions-underway-across-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on how Pakistan can learn lessons from policing in Norther Ireland:

Lessons from the reorganisation of policing in Northern Ireland could influence efforts to reform law and order in Pakistan, a human rights expert has said.

The sprawling south Asian country normally hits the headlines for violence related to the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

But it is also struggling against internal unrest, while policing legislation in some regions dates back to colonial powers introduced in the 1800s.

Aideen Gilmore, who has monitored the reform of the justice system in Northern Ireland, was asked to join experts in Islamabad for discussions on the theme of "Policing in Conflict", co-hosted by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, plus local human rights and lobby groups.

"The organisers were interested in hearing about the Northern Ireland experience of policing in conflict and particularly the process of police reform and how policing can be made more human rights compliant," she said.

"Generally, there was interest in how to move from a seemingly intractable conflict to one where the idea of change that is based on human rights and the rule of law becomes a possibility, and from there to the implementation of that change and the challenges that brings.

"Because of the problems with oversight and accountability of policing, participants were particularly interested in the models that we have developed and what is needed to make them effective, for example, the importance of a strong, effective and independent police complaints body."

The human rights expert came to prominence with the Belfast-based Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) and is on a career break as its deputy director to take part in a range of human rights consultancy work at home and abroad. The event in Pakistan also included human rights groups from the country, as well as retired police officers and government representatives.

"What was really striking was the level of internal conflict in the country - so much of the internationally reported news focuses on the international dimension, and particularly in relation to Afghanistan, problems in the border regions and relationships with the US, with little reporting on the impact on the people living in the country, where suicide bombings and attacks on the government and administration by the TTP (the Pakistan Taliban group) have claimed many lives and created a volatile and unsafe environment.

"So the challenge is protecting human rights and upholding the rule of law, and the role of the police in doing this, in a situation of conflict - something which Northern Ireland can offer much to learn from."


http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5hdwOWUd6IPHnxlcO5YRst9W8A_4w?docId=N0660831324989638542A

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on Pakistan Society of Criminology report:

The Pakistan Society of Criminology (PSC) on Tuesday launched a special publication on ‘Policing Terrorism and Radicalism’ outlining the police role in ongoing battle against terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

Edited by Queensland University Prof Geoff Dean, it is also the 12th issue of the PSC. The society has also launched, ‘Towards a Functional Juvenile Justice System in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’ and two training manuals on juvenile justice. PSC President Fasihuddin has written the publications. The manuals are the first of its kind in Pakistan. KP Inspector General Akbar Khan Hoti, chief guest on the occasion, praised the role of the PSC in identifying weak spots in police through research. “If we can win over people, we can win over the terrorists/criminals,” he spoke on the occasion. He also talked about the outdated syllabus being taught to police officers, adding that such courses could not help fight terrorism successfully.

Hoti praised the research-based articles contained in the journal, adding that some of KP Police officials were contributing to the Police Department and society through their strategic thinking and collecting data and its analysis. While appreciating the efforts of the PSC president and his team, he said that he would definitely be waiting for more researches published by the society. Assistant IG (Special Branch) Syed Akhtar Ali Shah presented his critical views about the academic achievements of the PSC and its publication, ‘Pakistan Journal of Criminology’. He said that PSC was the name of “creativity and hard work”.

Prof Dr Adnan Sarwar Khan, director of the Institute of Regional Studies at the University of Peshawar, critically evaluated the journal. He recommended that the journal should be provided to all law colleges and libraries of the police and educational institutions in the country. Fasih said the PSC was committed to carrying out original and value-free research work. He said that he would help law enforcement agencies in designing training curriculum and courses on human rights, de-radicalisation and community engagement. Uzma Mehboob, a worker of Khwendo Kor (sisters’ home), spoke on the role of civil society in promoting human protection, development and research-based policies. Police officials, the Peshawar police chief, the Elite Police commandant, the former IG (prisons), the Australian Federal Police consultant, the Counterterrorism Wing commandant, the superintendent of police (research), the Establishment AIG, senior superintendents of police (operations and coordination), the SP (traffic), the SP (rural) and teachers of the University of Peshawar were present


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\04\25\story_25-4-2012_pg7_10

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BR on Australian forensic training for Pak law enforcement:

The Australian Government has introduced a new policy initiative to enhance its law enforcement engagement with Pakistan. a statement by Australian High Commission said on Friday.



A major component of this initiative belongs to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and its focus is on forensic capacity development across both federal and regional Pakistan.



The AFP Pakistan Forensic Capacity Building Project was developed as a result of this initiative. To date, the Project has successfully delivered nine forensic training courses in Canberra with a total of 88 participants from various Pakistani regions and relevant agencies.



The Australian High Commission and the AFP are very pleased to have achieved a significant milestone by successfully running the Project's first training course in Pakistan: Laboratory Management and Quality Systems which ran from 8 to 17 October 2012 at the Punjab Forensic Science Agency and included 21 participants from a range of areas and agencies within Pakistan.



Dr. James Robertson from the National Centre of Forensic Studies in Australia who was the key lecturer during this course said: "It has provided an excellent opportunity to reach a broader group of participants and also to enhance our own understanding of current forensic structures and capabilities in Pakistan, which in turn enables us to better understand how we can best deliver the remaining courses under this Project."



Dr Robertson also acknowledged the great achievement of the Punjab Government and Dr Mohammad Tahir in establishing the PFSA as a world class forensic laboratory.



The coming nine months for the AFP Project includes a variety of activities to further develop forensic capability in Pakistan, including two more training courses in Karachi and Lahore, two Forensic Leadership Forum meetings in Karachi, Islamabad and a number of training courses in Australia.



This Project continues to demonstrate the strong strategic relationship and even stronger friendship between Australia and Pakistan.


www.brecorder.com/pakistan/general-news/86920-australia-introduces-new-law-enforcement-engagement-with-pakistan.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an NPR report on Pakistan's "patriot Act":

Earlier this month, Pakistan's powerful Lower House of Parliament passed what analysts have dubbed Pakistan's Patriot Act. Its name here is "Investigation for Fair Trial Bill."

It has been presented to the Pakistani people as a way to update existing law and usher the rules for investigation in Pakistan into the 21st century. Among other things, it makes electronic eavesdropping admissible as evidence in court.

To American ears, the argument for the new law should sound vaguely familiar. Pakistani officials say that in order to fight the war against terror, they need to be allowed to capture emails, listen in on cellphone calls, and track suspects so they can stay one step ahead of the terrorists.

That's the same argument FBI Director Robert Mueller made before members of Congress when the FBI sought changes in the Patriot Act.

Already A Common Practice

The difference is that the Pakistani version has been introduced into an entirely different societal context. To begin with, it is an open secret that security agencies in Pakistan already tape phones and monitor email with impunity.

They are supposed to get warrants to do this, but they rarely do. The bill is seen as legal cover for what is already common practice. Another difference: This being Pakistan, the feeling among those who are following the bill is that the investigative powers won't be limited to terrorists. Politicians, they believe, are likely to be the main targets.

"There are two sides of the argument. One is that this is a country at war — a war within and war in the region — so you need certain laws to protect people from terrorist activity," says Harris Khaliq, a poet and columnist in Islamabad. "At the same time, Pakistan has a checkered political history and we as citizens are really wary of a situation where these laws or such policies could be actually used to oppress political opponents of whoever is in power."

It is common to use criminal charges as a brickbat against powerful politicians. Bribery and corruption charges are routinely filed and then dismissed. Smear campaigns are frequent. Democracy in Pakistan is too fragile to allow these kinds of sweeping powers, says Aasim Sajjad, a professor of political economy at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad.

"Frankly, to be honest, it is not as if this act per se would be required for this sort of big-brother apparatus to operate. I think it operates in any case," Sajjad says. "The worry is that the state and the intelligence apparatus here has historically been so powerful and so unaccountable that there is a feeling that we would be totally surrendering every last remaining bit of independence or civil liberties" by passing the law....


http://www.npr.org/2013/01/02/168222711/pakistans-patriot-act-could-target-politicians

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Global Post on witness protection in Pakistan:

Ten years ago, Mohammad Ajmal was arrested in Karachi for the murders of 38 men. The murders, all committed in the Pakistani province of Sindh, were neither his first nor his last offenses.

Ajmal, better known in Pakistan by his alias, Akram Lahori, had been systematically killing Shiite Muslims since 1996, when he founded Lashkar e Jhangvi, a militant organization with ties to Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.

Today, inside Karachi Central Jail, Lahori waits once again to hear the date of his impending trial, one that has been heard, postponed and rescheduled multiple times.

Pakistan’s courts value testimonies from eyewitnesses above all else. And, in this case, two of the three witnesses have disappeared. The third turned hostile.

Disappearing witnesses have become so common that during its last parliamentary session, the Sindh government moved to consider a witness protection bill that would provide eyewitnesses with sanctuary and relocation so they could testify safely. For Lahori’s victims, however, the bill might come too late.

When he was first arrested in 2002, the six-foot tall Lahori proudly told investigators that he was also responsible for killing another 30 Shiites in Punjab.
The confession, though, meant little to Pakistan’s courts.

Since then, Karachi’s high court has acquitted Lahori in several cases of sectarian killings, citing a lack of evidence and witnesses. Though he awaits verdicts from Karachi’s anti-terrorism courts, people familiar with Lahori’s case say chances are that the confessed criminal will be set free.

Family members of Lahori’s victims say they have little hope of seeing any sort of justice executed by Pakistan’s legal system. They cite the now infamous acquittal of Malik Ishaq, another founding member of Lashkar e Jhangvi, last July. Authorities accuse Ishaq, long heralded as Pakistan’s most dangerous terrorist, of masterminding the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.

While he was detained, Ishaq told reporters and jail wardens that he was personally responsible for the murders of 102 men. However, the Supreme Court of Pakistan released Ishaq after holding him for 14 years, pointing to an acute lack of eyewitnesses in the case.

“I couldn’t believe that they set him free,” said the wife of one of Ishaq’s victims. “There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he committed those crimes, murdering people just for not being in the same religion. Now he’s free to wander Lahore’s streets anyway.”

Activists and top-level politicians in Pakistan say that the cases of Lahori and Ishaq aren’t unusual. In Karachi’s anti-terrorism courts, where the conviction rate hovers around 26 percent, the number one reason for acquittals is the lack of witnesses.

The new witness protection bill might help — a little. Presiding over a meeting in Karachi in November, President Asif Ali Zardari acknowledged that a lack of witness testimony was hindering effective prosecution, and specifically directed the Sindh government to work on legislation that guarantees witnesses’ safety.

The Sindh government has already set aside $10,000 for the program, which has been modeled on current laws in other countries, and aims to protect witnesses and their families so that they can record their testimonies in court....


http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/121226/pakistan-witness-protection-justice-law-courts-human-rights

Riaz Haq said...

Forensic labs being set up in Pakistan:

PakistanToday 2011:

LAHORE - South Asia's most modern forensic laboratory is being built in Lahore, which will prove to be a milestone in eradicating crimes, bringing criminals to justice, investigating crimes on scientific lines and providing justice to people, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Sunday.
He was addressing a meeting during a visit to the under-construction Punjab Forensic Science Agency near the Thokhar Niaz Baig. The Punjab Police inspector general, Punjab home secretary, Punjab health secretary and other senior officials were also present on the occasion.
Shahbaz directed officials to accelerate construction work of the forensic laboratory. Forensic Laboratory Project Director Nayyar Mehmood gave a detailed briefing to the CM. Shahbaz said that the project is of international standards and has vital importance, which would not only help curb crimes but also trace criminals involved in heinous crimes for bringing them to justice.
He said that establishment of this unique and latest laboratory would not only benefit Punjab but other provinces as well. The CM said that protection of life and property of citizens and eradication of crimes is top priority of the Punjab government and establishment of the forensic lab is an important step in this direction. He said that every life is precious for the Punjab government and funds are being provided for this important project by curtailing other expenditure.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/01/10/city/lahore/south-asias-best-forensic-lab-being-built-in-lahore/

ET Dec 2012:


KARACHI:

The Forensic People of Turkey and Dow University of Medical and Health Sciences signed a memorandum of understanding at Governor House on Tuesday to build the first forensic lab in Karachi.

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan said that the forensic lab was necessary considering the law and order situation in the city. The lab will be set up at the Ojha campus of Dow University.

“DNA tests will help us ascertain the genealogy or personal ancestry of a person,” said Khan.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/475211/first-forensic-lab-to-be-built-in-karachi/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from various articles about Obama re-election campaign's chief scientist Rayid Ghani:

Mother Jones:

A political novice, Ghani came to the campaign from Chicago-based R&D firm Accenture Technology Labs, where he specialized in building algorithms from various data sets—like consumer shopping habits—to help businesses improve their bottom lines. In one of his more recent projects, Ghani developed a model to estimate, with 96 percent accuracy, the end price of an eBay auction—information that could then be used to sell price insurance to queasy users worried about coming up short. At OFA, his skills have been put to use on Project Dreamcatcher, which uses text analytics to gauge voter sentiment.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/obama-campaign-tech-staff

Dawn:

“What I really did there was explore and figure out what I wanted to do, which ended up being a research career in some form of artificial intelligence and machine learning,” Ghani said. “I was motivated by two goals: One was to study and understand how we (humans) learn and two: I wanted to solve large practical problems by making computers smarter though the use of data.”

That eventually led him to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for graduate school where he studied Machine Learning and Data Mining.

It was during this period that he started working at Accenture Technology labs as chief scientist, before joining Obama For America.

At Accenture, Ghani mined mountains of private data of given corporations to find statistical patterns that could forecast consumer behavior.

“We were a small group of people who were kind of looking at the next generation of tools that would be beneficial for businesses,” he said. “We were trying to find new approaches to analysing data and see how we could apply it to businesses.”

In today’s data-centric world, the one-size-fits-all model is no longer an efficient use of a company’s resources. More and more, corporations are looking for increasingly targeted approaches to attract consumers.


http://dawn.com/2013/01/21/obamas-secret-weapon-in-re-election-pakistani-scientist-rayid-ghani/

GigaOm:

During a recent interview, Obama for America Chief Scientist Rayid Ghani compared his team’s social media approach in 2012 to the shift in web content from reposted print material to material designed for the web. For many organizations, he said, the prevailing strategy is “‘I used to use email, and now I’m just going to put the same information on a Facebook page.’” However, the president’s campaign used an abundance of online and offline data in order to hyper-personalize messages and get the most bang for its buck in terms of outreach.

Essentially, Ghani explained, the campaign was able to match up supporters’ friends against voting lists and determine how it should approach supporters to reach their friends. If someone was going to spread a message to 20 people, the campaign wanted to ensure they reached 20 people most likely to take action in some way. Because Ghani’s team had done so much work integrating its myriad data sets into a single view, it was better able to decide who could be most easily persuaded to vote for the first time, to donate money, to get active knocking on doors or perhaps even to switch sides.

That it was coming from friends rather than the campaign was critical to the strategy’s success, too. “The more local the contact is,” Ghani said, “the more likely [people] are to take action.”


http://gigaom.com/2012/12/08/how-obamas-data-scientists-built-a-volunteer-army-on-facebook/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Gulf News story on Pakistan modernizing its civilian intelligence bureau (IB):

Islamabad: Pakistan has decided to equip its largest civilian intelligence agency, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), with state-of-the-art spying equipment to keep an eye on other domestic agencies as well as terrorist activities.
Reliable sources told Online that billions of rupees have been spent on acquiring the modern surveillance equipment from a German Company, ULTIMACO, to turn the IB into a super modern agency.
According to sources Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, learning from his past experience, has taken this measure to not only to keep an eye on terrorism and subversive activities but also to keep an eye on activities of other intelligence agencies, which are not bound to report to civilian government.
In the past, some military-aligned agencies have kept key information hidden from the civilian govts.

The new equipment would also be used for IP interception, LT call monitoring and G-mail, Viber and BB monitoring.
The extension in service of DG IB Aftab Sultan has also been made in this respect. He is said to be an honest and reliable officer whom the govt trusts and wants that the project be completed under his supervision.
Sources said that Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan has been directed to monitor this project.
Khan, in several of his media talks, had expressed concerns that only the IB keeps them in the loop while most of the civilian and military agencies do not give them any direct information, which resulted in problems in tackling terrorism incidents.


http://gulfnews.com/news/world/pakistan/pakistan-to-equip-spies-with-latest-tech-1.1320975