Archive | Asia

Zio-Wahhabi (ISIS) terrorists are already in China

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Uighur Muslims from the Xinjiang region have staged a series of terrorist attacks against Chinese citizens in the past several years. Now, apparently, they are leaving China to join Zio-Wahhabi ISIS, then returning to wage more terrorism and establish an Zio-Wahhabi State in China.

Posted in China1 Comment

Writer’s Misperceptions About Pakistan’s Nuclear Safety

NOVANEWS

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By Sajjad Shaukat

While showing their double standard, the US, India and some western countries use one pretext

or the other in targeting the nuclear programme of the unfavorable small countries in order to

obtain their selfish interests. As Pakistan is the only declared nuclear country in the Islamic

World, hence, it has become special target of some western top officials and media persons who

continue their propaganda against Pakistan’s nuclear programme. They have especially hired the

services of media anchors and writers who work on their payroll and have been creating doubts

about the safety and security of Pakistan’s atomic weapons and nuclear plants.

In this respect, in his article, “Let’s go nuclear—safely”, published in the daily Dawn on March

14, 2015, Pervez Hoodbhoy has tacitly shown his misperceptions about Pakistan’s nuclear safety

by following the propaganda of external enemies, as his contradictions, baseless arguments and

Enumerating the benefits of solar energy for Pakistan over nuclear energy, Pervez ill-conceived

that solar energy is being preferred “by majorities in the US, Europe, and Japan including

Denmark and India who think nuclear reactors are unsafe even with additional safety features.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster, more than the Chernobyl one, has left people deeply wary of

official promises…the complexity of reactors has sharply increased capital and running

costs…solar energy is cheapest than the power generated by reactors.”

Under the cover of solar energy, Pervez Hoodbhoy has not only challenged the well-protected

nuclear installations of Pakistan, but also implicitly target Pak-China strategic relationship, while

trying to incite the people of Karachi against the federation. In this context, he writes, “How

would Pakistan deal with massive radioactive release after deliberate sabotage, a terrorist attack

or operator error? The 120,000 of Fukushima could flee, the 20 million of Karachi cannot…the

construction of two additional 1,100 MW nuclear power plants is under way. Of untested design,

they are China’s first export of reactors…a loan offer of $6.8 billion…the nuclear plants are slyly

linked with national security.”

However, it is brought to the notice of Pervez that despite the use of solar energy, the US and

Japan including many western countries like Denmark prefer to generate electricity through

nuclear plants, which is the safest form of energy today, and also with sufficient safeguards built-

in and the most advanced nuclear reactor technology—Pakistan government has assured that no

threat to human life or ecology will take place.

Although India is heavily investing in solar power projects, yet there are also giant nuclear power

plants like Jaitapur with electricity capacity of 9600 MW.

Besides, the nuclear energy produces electricity without enhancing global warming, while solar

energy is intercepted by Earth from the sun—it includes all those fuels which have already been

used and their pollution is rapidly making the Earth warmer. In this connection, US-led most

developed countries are worried about the warming of Earth, and have held various conferences

to resolve this problem.

Moreover, solar power requires large area of land and in case of Pakistan; it can be used for

agriculture and forests. In future, Pakistan will have to depend on coal, hydro and nuclear power

to meet its energy needs. Comparatively, nuclear energy has more advantages, as it is cheaper

than coal or hydropower. Furthermore, taking lesson from the nuclear incident of Chernobyl, the

sites of nuclear power plants are selected after a careful process which engages International

Atomic Agency (IAEA) for maintaining best safety and security practices. The sites of

Pakistan’s upcoming power plants have been approved after consideration of huge data which

includes seismic, tsunami-related, meteorological, and deep underground features. Like the

earlier plants in Pakistan, this data has been incorporated into the designs of the power plants.

It is surprising that the writer who is a doctorate in physics has distorted facts. For example,

Fukushima incident did not kill or affected any person with radiations in Japan, because people

were evacuated from the concerned areas.

It is mentionable that Pakistan does not have enough money for wind and solar energy, and we

need a quick solution of power crisis, otherwise, we will be far more behind in race of prosperity.

For this purpose, Pak China joint ventures particularly nuclear reactors are well-thought projects

and should not be maligned.

Pervez Hoodbhoy’s attention is also invited toward rumors and ground realties. In 2009 when the

heavily-armed Taliban entered Swat, Dir and Buner, US high officials and their media had

exaggerated the ‘Talibinisation’ of whole Pakistan, while showing concerns about Pakistan’s

atomic arms. In that regard, the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had warned that

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. But, Pakistan’s armed forces

ejected the Taliban insurgents out of these areas by breaking their backbone.

When insurgents had attacked on Pakistan’s Naval Airbase in Karachi on May 23, 2011, US-led

some western countries including India and Israel exploited the situation through disinformation

about the security of Pak nukes. Similarly, terrorists’ assault on Kamra Base was successfully

foiled by the personnel of Pakistan Air Force, but, a baseless report, published in the New York

Times on the same day indicated that suspected militants attacked a major Pakistani Air Force

base where some of the country’s nuclear weapons were considered to be stored in the early

hours of the militants’ attack. The ex-US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta also stated on the same

day, “There is a danger of nuclear weapons of Pakistan, falling into hands of terrorists.”

During American President Barack Obama’s visit to India, on January 25, this year, the US and

India announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply

New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology. In this respect, both the countries had signed a deal

in 2008, but, Indian access to civilian nuclear technology was held up for six years amid

concerns over the liability for any nuclear accident or Indian poor nuclear safety.

India’s eagerness for entry into Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) and other regimes is aimed at

enhancing Defence-related capacities rather than meeting its energy requirements. With

American support, New Delhi which has obtained the NSG waiver has signed nuclear

cooperation agreements with France, Russia, United Kingdom etc.

Indian past record proves various kinds of security and safety lapses regarding various nuclear

plants and the related sensitive materials including events of leakage, nuclear theft, smuggling

In this context, in November, 2009, more than 90 Indian workers suffered radiation due to

contamination of drinking water at the Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Karnataka. On July 27,

1991, a similar event occurred at the heavy water plant run by the Department of Atomic Energy

at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan. Nuclear radiation had affected and injured many laborers there.

In July 1998, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seized eight Kg. of nuclear material

from three engineers in Chennai, which was stolen from an atomic research center.

On November 7, 2000, IAEA disclosed that Indian police had seized 57 pounds of uranium and

arrested two men for illicit trafficking of radioactive material. IAEA had revealed that Indian

civil nuclear facilities were vulnerable to thefts.

On January 26, 2003, CNN pointed out that Indian company, NEC Engineers Private Ltd.

shipped 10 consignments to Iraq, containing highly sensitive equipments entailing titanium

vessels and centrifugal pumps.

In December 2006, a container packed with radioactive material had been stolen from an Indian

fortified research atomic facility near Mumbai.

In June 2009, India’s nuclear scientist, Lokanathan Mahalingam missed from the scenario and

after a couple of days; his dead body was recovered from the Kali River. Indian police concocted

a story that Mahalingam had committed suicide by jumping into the river. It is a big joke to hide

some real facts behind his death because wisdom proves that if an educated person decides to

commit suicide, he will definitely adopt a soft way to eliminate his life. Afterwards, Dr. Haleema

Saadia said that death of the scientist was a conspiracy.

Nevertheless, by setting aside the Indian irresponsible record of security lapses and poor safety,

especially, US is likely to supply India civil nuclear technology. In fact, instead of Pakistan

which depends upon minimum deterrence in wake of Indian aggressive designs, US-led hostile

countries must better have concerns about the safety of India’s nuclear weapons and plants.

Despite the repeated assurances of Islamabad that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and various plants

are well-protected and are under tight security arrangements, a deliberate propaganda campaign

against their safety keeps on going by the external enemies.

In these terms, Pervez Hoodbhoy who has tacitly supported the agenda of some foreign powers

has only misguided the readers through his misperceptions about Pakistan’s nuclear safety.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

‘Pakistan won’t rush to join anti-Iran alliance’

“Pakistan would not rush to join the anti-Iran alliance that is being forged,” a senior government functionary told Dawn in a background interview. — AP/file
“Pakistan would not rush to join the anti-Iran alliance that is being forged,” a senior government functionary told Dawn in a background interview. — AP/file

ISLAMABAD: The government has decided against taking sides in the emerging situation in the Middle East – at least for now.

“Pakistan would not rush to join the anti-Iran alliance that is being forged,” a senior government functionary told Dawn in a background interview.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif last week visited Saudi Arabia on what the government described as a special invitation of Saudi King Salman Bin Abulaziz.

The invitation for Mr Sharif was part of diplomatic consultations Riyadh started in view of the evolving situation. Other Muslim leaders that the King met over the past few weeks included the presidents of Palestine, Egypt and Turkey, the Jordanian king, emirs of Kuwait and Qatar and the UAE leader.

King Salman’s discussions with Mr Sharif in Riyadh centred on Saudi concerns about Tehran’s expanding influence in the region, the official, who had been briefed about the visit, said, adding that the threat from the self-styled Islamic State also came up in the talks.

Mr Sharif, while agreeing to strengthen relations with Saudi Arabia during the visit, also committed to intensifying security and counter-terrorism cooperation.

The government, however, after evaluating the pros and cons, the official claimed, decided on staying neutral and playing the “role of a unifier” in Ummah.

“We cannot afford to involve ourselves in the disputes among the Muslim countries,” he explained.

While it remains to be seen how Pakistan government acts in the coming days, some of the decisions taken so far indicate that it is not getting itself involved in the Middle East.

The official disclosed that Pakistan had decided not to spare any troops for Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan currently has a few military trainers and advisers in Saudi Arabia. There would not be any major increase in those numbers despite Saudi leadership’s intense desire for getting additional deployments, especially for guarding the border with Yemen.

Pakistan has got a fair reason for its decision as its troops are overstretched because of the domestic security situation.

Secondly, the official said the idea of relocating the mission in Yemen from Sana’a to Aden has also been dropped.

“This relocation thing was discussed because everyone (other missions) was moving from there, but we have now decided to remain in Sana’a,” he said.

The decisions were not easy for Islamabad, particularly because of ‘the special nature of the relationship with Riyadh’, a large number of Pakistanis working in the kingdom and other economic interest$.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir, Saudi Arabia0 Comments

Amritsar Treaty & Kashmirs’ Struggle

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By Sajjad Shaukat

In fact, the misfortune of people of Jammu and Kashmir started on March 16, 1846 when the

Treaty of Amritsar was signed. Under the Treaty, British colonialists sold Kashmir alongwith its

people to a Dogra Hindu, Gulab Singh for 7.5 million rupees. The Treaty of Amritsar which was

signed by Gulab Singh, Hardinge, Currie and Lawrence had common cause among the parties

with the aim to end the Muslim rule in Jammu and Kashmir. Gulab Singh thus became the

founder and first Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

As a consequence of the Treaty of Amritsar, a reign of terror was unleashed by the

Dogra dynasty on the Kashmiris. During the Dogra rule (1846-1947), Kashmiri Muslims were

leading so miserable life that it was difficult to differentiate them from beasts. Slave labour,

heavy taxes, capital punishment for cow slaughter, and living under constant terror was order of

In this regard, Yousaf Saraf in his book, ‘Kashmiris Fight for Freedom’ calls it “free forced

labour” and “instead of donkeys and horses, Kashmiri Muslims were used for transportation of

goods across the far-flung areas.” Atrocities of the Dogra regime could also be judged from the

book of Sir Walter Lawrence, ‘The India We Served’. While describing the pathetic picture of

the Kashmiris, he writes, “Army was employed in forcing the villagers to plough and sow, and

worse still, the soldiers came at harvest time and when the share of the state had been seized”

and “there was very little grain to tide the unfortunate peasants over the cruel winter.”

On April 19, 1931, the ban of Eid Khutba ignited widespread demonstrations in the Jummu city.

For the first time, people openly opposed the oppression. On July 13, 1931, thousands of people

thronged the Central Jail Srinagar. As the time for obligatory prayer approached, a young

Kashmiri stood for Azan. The Dogra soldiers opened fire at him. In this way, 22 Kashmiris

embraced martyrdom in their efforts to complete the Azan.

The people carried the dead and paraded through the streets of Srinagar, chanting slogans against

Dogra brutalities. Complete strike was observed in the city, which was followed by weeklong

mourning. This incident shook the whole state and the traffic from Srinagar to Rawalpindi and

Srinagar to Jammu came to halt.

However, upon these ruthless killings, the Kashmiri leadership realized the need to form a

political party, Muslim Conference (MC) with a view to waging struggle for their freedom.

Later, in 1934, state’s first elections were held and MC won 10 out of 21 seats, and after two

years in 1936, it succeeded in getting 19 out of 21 seats. Indian Congress was upset with this

situation and tried to create division in the ranks of Kashmiri leadership. Afterwards, on July 19,

1947, MC passed a resolution to merge Kashmir with Pakistan, considering the geographical

proximity—majority of Muslim population (77%), language and cultural relations of Jammu and

During the partition of the Sub-continent, in 1947, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh,

in connivance with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor-General Lord

Mountbatten, had decided to join India, quite contrary to the wishes of the majority of Kashmiris.

When a contention arose between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute in1948, India took

the issue to the United Nations Security Council and offered to hold a plebiscite in the held

Kashmir under UN supervision. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise. Instead, in

March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India.

While passing through various phases, the struggle of Kashmiris which has become an

interaction between Indian state terrorism led by the Indian security forces and war of liberation

by the freedom fighters, keeps on going unabated.

Despite the employment of various forms of state terrorism by the Indian security forces, war of

liberation intensified since 1989.

A recent report on human rights violations by Indian Army and its paramilitary forces in Indian-

held Kashmir disclosed that since 1989, there have been deaths of 93,274 innocent Kashmiris,

6,969 custodial killings, 117,345 arrests and 105,861 destructions of houses. Indian brutal

security forces have orphaned over 107, 351 children, widowed 22,728 women and gang raped

Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out

grave human rights violations in the Indian-controlled Kashmir, indicating, “The Muslim

majority population in the Kashmir Valley suffers from the repressive tactics of the security

forces. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and

Kashmir) Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act, security forces have extraordinary powers

to shoot suspected persons.”

Particularly in 2008, a rights group reported unmarked graves in 55 villages across the Indian

occupied Kashmir. In this context, in August, 2011, Indian Jammu and Kashmir State Human

Rights Commission (SHRC) officially acknowledged in its report that innocent civilians killed in

the two-decade conflict have been buried in unmarked graves. Notably, foreign sources and

human rights organizations including Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP)

have pointed out that unnamed graves include thousands of innocent persons, killed by the

Indian military and paramilitary troops in the fake encounters including those who were tortured

Now, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi is

implementing new Kashmir diplomacy in order to eliminate the struggle of Kashmiris. In this

regard, BJP and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed have

forged a coalition government on March 1, 2015 after inconclusive elections in Kashmir. For the

purpose, an agreement between BJP and PDP was signed, aimed at robbing the mandate of the

Kashmiri people who posed confidence in PDP for their betterment. Nevertheless, PDP’s wooing

of BJP is grave act of betrayal to its voters.

And, Modi hurriedly decided to forcibly annex disputed territory of the Indian-occupied

Kashmir, uncovering its intentions to wrap up the article 370 of the Indian constitution which

ensures a special status to J&K.

In this respect, on the one hand, BJP government gave a green signal to the Indian security forces

to continue various forms of state terrorism on the innocent kashmiris, while on the other, it has

also been cajoling them through positive measures in order to divide them. In this connection, on

January 15, 2015, during the Indian Army Day, Indian Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh

ordered a day’s pay contribution by the entire Army to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to

help flood-affected people in the Indian-held Kashmir—totaling an amount of Rs. 100 crore.

Returning to our earlier discussion, the Treaty of Amritsar is the genesis of Kashmiris’ struggle

which keeps on going, and will continue untill they get their legitimate right of self-

determination.

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US to keep more troops in Afghanistan than planned

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While no final decision on numbers has been made, the officials said the administration is poised to slow withdrawal plans and probably will allow many of the 9,800 American troops to remain well into next year. — AFP/file
While no final decision on numbers has been made, the officials said the administration is poised to slow withdrawal plans and probably will allow many of the 9,800 American troops to remain well into next year. — AFP/file

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is abandoning plans to cut the number of US forces in Afghanistan to 5,500 by year’s end, bowing to military leaders who want to keep more troops, including many into the 2016 fighting season, US officials say.

While no final decision on numbers has been made, the officials said the administration is poised to slow withdrawal plans and probably will allow many of the 9,800 American troops to remain well into next year.

There also are discussions about keeping a steady number of counterterrorism troops into 2015, including options under which some would remain in the country or be nearby beyond 2016.

Read: Pakistan, Afghanistan welcome US decision

Currently, about 2,000 US troops are conducting counterterrorism missions, and military leaders have argued that they will need to continue pursuing the remnants of al Qaeda and to monitor Islamic State militants looking to recruit in Afghanistan.

Officials say President Barack Obama probably will use a Washington visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani this month as the time to announce his decision on a new withdrawal timeline.

Also read: US not to abandon Afghanistan, says White House

US officials familiar with the debate said it’s not clear yet whether the White House will agree to a small, symbolic decrease by the end of this year or insist on a larger cut.

They note that there is some stiff opposition to any change, largely from national security adviser Susan Rice.

In recent weeks, Pentagon leaders, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter, have acknowledged the discussions about slowing the pace of troop withdrawal.

But they increasingly are confident that the military will get its way and keep a robust force in Afghanistan beyond year’s end.

The administration, however, has shown no inclination so far for going beyond 2016; that’s a hard line drawn by the president when he announced the withdrawal plan.

The 2016 deadline is considered a politically crucial national security goal for Obama, who promised to get all troops out by the end of his presidency, ending America’s longest war.

Obama, who also pledged to end the war in Iraq, has had to send troops back there to help Iraqi forces fight Islamic State militants.

So his promise to withdraw troops from Afghanistan has taken on more political importance. Military leaders want to keep what they consider a “modest” number of troops in Afghanistan longer in order to protect America’s investment and provide as much training and advice as possible to Afghan forces.

Maintaining a more stable number of troops, military leaders have argued, would allow better support of the Afghans during this summer’s fighting season and better prepare them for 2016 battles.

Members of Congress, including Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also have expressed concerns about a sharp drawdown this year.

During a hearing last month, McCain said a lack of presence in Afghanistan would create a vacuum and “allow terrorists to foment the same disaster in Afghanistan as we have seen in Iraq, growing instability, terrorist safe havens and direct threats to the United States. “

The original plan Obama announced last year would reduce the number of US troops to 5,500 by the end of 2015, and take all but a routine, embassy-based security force out by the end of 2016.

The embassy security mission varies widely around the world, but could total 1,000 troops.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly before final decisions have been made.

When Carter was in Kabul for meetings with his military leaders in February, he told reporters that the new thinking on troop levels was fueled by the improving relations between the US and Afghan governments.

The unity government of Ghani and the chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, offers new promise for a more effective partnership with Washington in stabilizing the country, Carter said during the visit.

US officials grew impatient with former president, Hamid Karzai, who sometimes publicly criticized the US military and took a dimmer view of partnering with it.

Carter said the new, more hopeful outlook is an important reason for the administration’s decision to consider slowing the troop withdrawal.

Ghani and other Afghan leaders have made it clear that they would like as many U.S. troops to remain for as long as possible.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

Afghanistan gave CIA money to Al Qaeda to free diplomat

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The terror group’s leader at the time, Osama bin Laden, worried that the Americans knew about the payment and were either tracing the cash or had laced it with poison or radiation. — Reuters/file

WASHINGTON: Afghanistan used about $1 million provided by the CIA to a secret government fund to pay Al-Qaeda in 2010 for a diplomat’s release, The New York Times reported Saturday.

The terror group’s leader at the time, Osama bin Laden, worried that the Americans knew about the payment and were either tracing the cash or had laced it with poison or radiation, and suggested it be converted to another currency, according to the Times.

The newspaper said letters by bin Laden and his group’s general manager Atiyah Abd al-Rahman were found among computers and documents seized by US Navy SEALs during a 2011 raid in which the Al Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan.

Read: Afghan diplomat set free after two years

They had been classified until presented as evidence by federal prosecutors at the trial in New York of Abid Naseer, an Al Qaeda operative convicted this month of supporting terrorism and plotting to bomb a British shopping center.

Abdul Khaliq Farahi was serving as Afghanistan’s consul general in Peshawar, Pakistan, when he was kidnapped in September 2008, just weeks before he was due to start in a new post as Kabul’s ambassador in the country.

He was released more than two years later after Afghanistan paid Al-Qaeda $5 million, a fifth of which came from a secret fund the CIA supplied with monthly cash payments to the presidential palace, according to the Times, which also cited Afghan and Western officials.

In addition to the CIA funds, Pakistan paid for nearly half the ransom, and the rest came from Iran and Gulf states.

“It seems a bit strange somewhat because in a country like Afghanistan, usually they would not pay this kind of money to free one of their men,” bin Laden wrote about the funds.

In the end, the United States appeared to have inadvertently funded the very militant group it was fighting only due to poor oversight and controls.

Rahman wrote that the cash would be used for weapons, operational needs and to pay families of Qaeda fighters imprisoned in Afghanistan, which refused an offer from the group to release fighters in exchange for Farahi’s freedom.

The CIA cash sent to the secret fund was used to bu the loyalty of warlords, lawmakers and other prominent Afghans, though the payments have slowed under new President Ashraf Ghani, the Times noted.

Posted in Afghanistan, Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

PAKISTAN; 15 dead, at least 70 injured

NOVANEWS

In double Zio-Wahhabi suicide bombings on two churches in Lahore

Pakistani Zio-Wahhabi Taliban suicide bombers allegedly exploded themselves at two churches in the eastern city of Lahore on Sunday as worshippers were gathered inside, killing 15, including children, and critically wounding at least 70, in the latest attack against religious minorities in the  fractured country.

Here is CCTV video of the blast:


Enraged citizens took to the streets and seized two of the bombing suspects, beat them up and then took one of them and lit him on fire.


In the tense aftermath, angry mobs lashed out at people they suspected of involvement in the attacks — including one person who was burned to death — and crowds set fire to cars in a show of defiance in the country’s second largest city and the prime minister’s seat of power.

Enraged Christians burn a man they suspected of being involved in bomb attacks on churches, after lynching them in Lahore

Enraged crowds burn a man they suspected of being involved in bomb attacks on churches, after lynching them in Lahore

Local television footage showed an angry crowd beating a person they thought was connected to the attack, while others attacked buses in the city. The crowds burned to death one person they believed was involved in the attack and tried to lynch another, said Haider Ashraf, deputy inspector general for Lahore.

Angry protesters trash Lahore following the bombings:

Life in Pakistan is increasingly fraught with danger for religious minorities, especially Christians. They have been targeted by extremist Zio-Wahhabi militants who object to their faith.

One unidentified witness told Pakistan’s Geo television that the main gate to one of the churches targeted was closed so people were using a smaller gate. “One bomber exploded himself near that gate, that created chaos and during the course there was another blast,” he said.

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Two police who were protecting the churches were also killed in the explosions, which he confirmed were caused by suicide bombers.

A spokesman for the Punjab province government condemned the attacks but also said it was unfortunate that the mob had attacked suspects. He said authorities are reinforcing security at the 481 remaining churches across the city.

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Militants appear to be targeting minorities more intensively recently, including attacks on a string of Mosques belonging to members of the Shiite Muslim minority sect. In 2013, twin blasts at a church in Peshawar killed 85 people.

“There will be more of such attacks,” warned Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the Taliban faction that claimed responsibility for the assault, in a statement emailed to reporters.

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

End rifts or talks won’t take off, Pakistan tells Afghan Taliban

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Taliban militants are seen in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.--Reuters/File
Taliban militants are seen in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.–Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Days after word leaked that the Afghan Taliban had signalled willingness to enter talks to end Afghanistan’s long war, senior representatives of the militant group visited Islamabad for secret discussions on the next step forward.

They left with a blunt message from Pakistan: the Taliban must end the rift between two top leaders, or talks might never get off the ground.

Read| Afghan Taliban’s Doha office revived: Pakistan officials

The warning was a reminder of how tough it will be to get insurgents and the Afghan government around the same table, let alone agree to a lasting peace, even with help from Pakistan.

The two senior Taliban figures in question are political leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who favours negotiation, and battlefield commander Abdul Qayum Zakir, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, who opposes talks with Kabul.

Also read| Pak facilitating talks between Afghan Taliban, govt: Sartaj Aziz

Mansour and Zakir, long-time rivals, met recently to resolve their personal differences, slaughtering sheep for a feast to mark the occasion, according to two Taliban sources.

But Mansour was unable to persuade Zakir to reverse his opposition to direct talks with Kabul, which he sees as “wasting time” because the United States holds real power in Afghanistan, the sources added.

Also read| Afghan Taliban deny reports of peace talks: spokesman

The latest peace initiative, considered more promising than recent doomed efforts because of Pakistani and Chinese mediation, is aimed at ending an escalating conflict in which hundreds of Afghans are being killed every month.

The potential breakthrough came after foreign combat troops withdrew at the end of 2014, leaving a smaller training force of about 12,000.

Secrecy and denials

Many obstacles to peace remain.

Both sides are deeply suspicious and the Taliban are expected to demand the immediate withdrawal of the remaining foreign troops, a request Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appears sure to reject.

Still, the process is at least moving, according to several Taliban sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as senior Pakistani and Afghan officials.

Also read: US envoy praises Pakistan’s role for peace in Afghanistan

This week, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Daniel Feldman, made an unannounced visit to Islamabad to discuss the possibility of talks, the Pakistani army said.

And in late February, a delegation led by Qari Din Mohammad Hanif of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar met in Islamabad with Pakistani army leaders and Chinese diplomats, according to two Taliban commanders and two senior Pakistani officials.

The Taliban’s official spokesman denied that the visit took place.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei said its diplomats in Islamabad met with Taliban representatives who “do not accord with reality”.

A US government official said Feldman was in Pakistan as part of a business delegation, adding Washington had encouraged Pakistan and China to support Ghani’s reconciliation efforts.

According to two senior insurgent commanders with direct knowledge of the Taliban delegation’s visit to Islamabad, the group then met many Taliban leaders who remain in hiding, to brief them on preliminary discussions.

“They said Pakistani officials had advised them to remove our internal differences before starting formal talks with Kabul,” one of the Taliban commanders said by telephone.

Because Zakir holds sway over several thousand fighters in eastern Afghanistan, it is uncertain any ceasefire could hold were he to continue opposing direct talks with Kabul.

The verdict of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban’s reclusive supreme leader, could prove key. He has not been seen in public since the US-sponsored toppling of the Taliban after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.

Search for “middle ground”

Some experts are more hopeful of progress this time around because of a Pakistani threat to arrest or expel Taliban leaders if they do not negotiate with Kabul.

That could force the Afghan Taliban to cut ties with al Qaeda and the separate Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Also read: Lashkar-i-Islam merges into TTP

Renewed Pakistani pressure on the Afghan Taliban was galvanized by the TTP’s massacre of 132 students in December at an army-run school in Peshawar.

In return for Pakistani support for talks, Afghanistan has targeted TTP strongholds in its eastern Kunar province, near the Pakistan border – an indication of improving relations under Ghani.

“It’s early, but the signs are good,” said Saifullah Mahsud, head of the FATA Research Centre, an Islamabad-based think-tank.

“The Afghan Taliban have their financiers, their businesses, their families here. The Afghan Taliban are smart enough to know that the Pakistani state is a better contact than the TTP.”

Another new development is willingness by the Taliban to open talks without preconditions, said a senior Pakistani official with direct knowledge of the process.

However, Taliban representatives have indicated that, should talks begin, they would make demands including the immediate departure of all foreign troops.

A senior aide to Ghani said anticipated Taliban demands, which may also include re-imposing the harsh interpretation of Islamic law the movement enforced during its five-year rule, would be unacceptable.

The aide said Pakistani intermediaries were “working to find middle ground”, but so far reported no change in the Taliban stance.

“If these demands are not softened,” the aide said, “the first day of talks could become the last day of talks.”

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

MQM worker says Sector In-charge set Baldia Factory on fire

NOVANEWS
MQM worker Umair Siddiqui - DawnNews screengrab
MQM worker Umair Siddiqui – DawnNews screengrab

KARACHI: Detained Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker Umair Siddiqui has been involved in 120 target killings, Rangers asserted on Saturday. Siddiqui allegedly also confessed that MQM Sector In-charge Rehman Bhola was the man behind the deadly 2012 Baldia Town fire that consumed at least 258 factory workers.

Rangers personnel had presented a report to the Sindh High Court in February this year which revealed that the MQM had set the factory ablaze. The information had been disclosed by suspect Mohammad Rizwan Qureshi, an alleged worker of the MQM, on June 22, 2013 during joint investigation of the factory inferno.

In a press release issued today, the Rangers spokesperson said that Siddiqui, who was presented in an Anti-Terrorism Court today, confessed to being given the task of killing those that opposed the MQM.

The accused allegedly received orders to form a team of target killers which included 23 MQM members belonging to various units. The said team was involved in the killing of approximately 120 people that opposed the party.

The orders were issued by Hamad Siddiqui, a member of MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee, the press release stated.

Umair Siddiqui and his team of target killers also allegedly murdered the Rangers’ Lance Naik Shaukat. Siddiqui was also involved in the murders of former senator Faisal Raza Abidi’s guard and MQM representative Amir Khan’s nephew Sabihullah. Another MQM worker Tahir alias Nadeem SP was also murdered by the team, the press release said.

During interrogation, the suspect revealed that in 2008, MQM’s Deputy Convener Anees Qaim Khani held a meeting at Khurshid Memorial Hall to speed up target killings on a linguistic basis.

The suspect also revealed that he used a dealer in Quetta to procure weapons for MQM’s armed wing. In one instance he confessed to buying 40 Kalashnikovs, 8 LMGs, 1 rocket launcher, 6 G3s, 5 China rifles and 3 MGs.

He went on to claim that in February 2015 all sector in-charges were directed to return their extra weapons to Nine-Zero to prevent being found during raids. The said weapons were allegedly transferred from one area to another with the help of ambulances.

The suspect further confessed that approximately 250-300 target killers reside, or are in hiding, in the neighborhoods surrounding the MQM headquarters.

MQM worker Umair Siddiqui - DawnNews screengrab
MQM worker Umair Siddiqui – DawnNews screengrab

Rigging elections

In the 2013 elections, on the orders of the suspect, 60-70 party workers in Gulistan-e-Jauhar submitted fake votes in favour of MQM candidate Faisal Subzwari at the polling stations which were situated in the Maymar sector, the press release stated.

For this purpose, a day before the elections, the presiding officers were called to the sector office and were made to agree to the fake votes, Siddiqui allegedly confessed. He added that in every polling station, 15-20 boxes full of fake ballots were given to the presiding officers.

The suspect was turned over to the Rangers on physical remand for 90 days.

‘MQM being maligned’

MQM Chief Altaf Hussain said Saturday that the party was being deliberately maligned and targeted, while other criminals roamed free. He asserted that false statements were being coerced out of those arrested by the Rangers.

The MQM supremo also disassociated himself from Umair Siddiqui.

“Who is he?” Altaf questioned, adding that the suspect should be hanged if he is found to be guilty.


Complete Rangers press release

Posted in Pakistan & Kashmir0 Comments

S Korean Officials in Hot Water Over Plans to Forcefully Unify With North

NOVANEWS

Image result for S Korea FLAG

South Korean officials have been in damage control over the past several days following revelations by a senior official earlier this week that a “non-consensual” scenario on unification with North Korea was among the contingencies the Committee for Unification was looking at.

Chung Chong-Wook, the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation, said he had used the “wrong words” at a breakfast forum Tuesday where he had said that South Korean authorities envisioned a “variety of road maps” for unification, including “non-consensual unification.”This was the first high-ranking admission of a scenario envisioning North Korea’s absorption by South Korea. Speaking at the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, Chung also revealed that South Korean authorities had plans for dealing with North Korea’s political elite: “There is a large variety of North Korean elites, and the constituency of the Workers’ Party is quite diverse, so we will classify them and deal with them,” Chung said, cited by South Korea’s JoonAng Daily.Chung did his best to clarify his remarks on Thursday, noting that “our government is pursuing a peaceful reunification, not unification through absorption unilaterally by either the South or the North,” Yonghap reported. He added that the Presidential Committee “has reviewed various road maps, but it has determined that a peaceful reunification is the only alternative in ending the division and going forward [with the North] to a new future.”

Also on Thursday, the leaders of seven South Korean civic groups held a press conference in Seoul, noting in a joint statement that “any attempt to reunify the two Koreas by force would bring extreme cross-border confrontation and an end to inter-Korean relations.” The statement urged the government to “give up any attempt to reunify the North through absorption and [to] take a path of win-win co-existence.”The 50-member Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation was launched by President Park Geun-hye last July as one of her administration’s key policy initiatives. The Ministry of Unification, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other ministries and experts participate in the Presidential Committee, with President Park serving as the panel’s Chair.

Park unveiled her vision for unification last March in Dresden, Germany. North Korea has slammed the resulting Dresden Declaration, eying the South’s initiative with suspicion, and seeing it as a possible attempt to unify the two countries by force.An official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Korea Herald Wednesday that the Unification Panel has been bogged down “by administrative work, including…contacts with more than 50 civilian experts and advisors.” The official noted that creating a separate panel to study forceful unification would be “impossible,” given its current lack of capacity.

Posted in North Korea, South Korea0 Comments

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