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Have not spoken to son for 4 years, lament parents of Mumbai engineer languishing in Pakistan jail

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Love and desperation drove Mumbai engineer Hamid Ansari to illegally cross over to Pakistan from Afghanistan in late 2012 leading to his arrest and subsequent imprisonment.Four years later, the desperation to hear a word from their son has prompted Hamid’s parents — Fauzia Ansari and Nehal Ansari — to pitch a tent in the city’s protest hotspot, Jantar Mantar, and knock on the Prime Minister’s door.”The last time I spoke to him was on November 10, 2012 when he told me that he will be back in Mumbai by November 12 and was looking forward to take up a teaching assignment,” Fauzia said.Little did she know that, “egged on by a group of people in Pakistan who may have trapped him”, Hamid’s false bravado would plunge the family in a state of despair, with virtually no glimmer of hope.During this period, Fauzia has written to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, met Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj five times, so much so that “she recognises me even from a distance”.”Allow Hamid to talk to us from prison. We have not spoken to him for over four years now. Please allow him consular access denied to him till date,” reads her letter to Sharif.”Sushmaji has been extremely cooperative. Our last meeting was in August this year. She assured us that the government was pursuing the case,” Fauzia said, adding that the family would submit a memorandum to the PMO.Hamid, 31, had entered Pakistan to reportedly meet a girl he had befriended online, who was being “forcibly married” off to someone by her family, said Fauzia, a lecturer with a Mumbai college.It was only in January this year that Fauzia and Nehal came to know from Pakistan government’s submission in the Peshawar High Court, responding to Habeas Corpus petition, that Hamid was in military custody.He was arrested soon after he entered Pakistan and was tried by a Pakistani military court, which awarded him three years of imprisonment.”Since he has been in jail since 2012, he has served this sentence already. But there is no clarity about when he will be released. What is intriguing is that a woman Zeenat Shehzadi, who tried to help Hamid, seems to have been targeted by agencies there. She has gone missing,” Fauzia said.

New Pak Army chief Gen Bajwa has close links with the Hafeez Saeed’s JuD, reveals report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan’s 16th Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, is said to be not only a very proud Muslim and a follower of the Sharia, but unknown to most, seems to have close links with the fundamentalist Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is led by 26/11 mastermind Hafeez Saeed.According to a report published by Roznama Dunya, a venture of Dunya News, Pakistan’s leading news and current affairs channel, the JuD appears to have endorsed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s selection of General Bajwa as army chief, describing him as a ‘religious man’ who while simple and humble in approach, possesses the grit of a soldier who can firmly convey Pakistan’s message to its immediate neighbours (read India) as well as to the rest of the world.Recently, Amir Hamza, one of the central leaders of the JuD, which India has held responsible for the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai that claimed over 160 lives and left more than 300 others injured through its militant wing, the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), extolled the special qualities and virtues of General Qamar Bajwa, and said that it was to the Pakistan government and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s credit that they had selected a simple yet religious man to head the country’s all-powerful army.Globally, the JuD has been widely acknowledged as the front of the militant Lashkar-e-Toiba. On December 11, 2008 the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on the JuD, declaring it a global terrorist group. Hafiz Saeed had then declared that he would challenge the sanctions imposed on his group in all forums, as he has repeatedly maintained that his outfit is only involved in charitable works.On June 25, 2014, the United States said that several LeT affiliates, including the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Al-Anfal Trust, Tehrik-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool, and Tehrik-e-Tahafuz Qibla Awwal needed to be added to the list of foreign terrorist organisations.Hamza said, “It is the mercy of Allah that such a noble and humble religious man has become the head of the army”. Hamza further suggests that while General Bajwa may not be the traditional and proverbial in your face Pakistani general in so far as issues with India are concerned, he possesses the ability to send across the right message at the right time.To substantiate this claim of his, Hamza recalls General Bajwa’s recent message to India – “That if the right to self-determination is given to Kashmiris, then there is ‘Qamar’, i.e. moon light, (and) if not given, then India won’t rest in peace.”In the article published in the Roznama Dunya, Hamza, claims that he believes that General Bajwa is a follower of the ‘Hadith’ (a collection of traditions containing sayings of Prophet Mohammad which act as a major source of guidance for Muslims apart from the Koran).Hamza, in his article, recalls one of the prophet’s sayings. The prophet has said should a person commit a sin and his mother is not alive for atonement and forgiveness, that person should go to his maternal aunt, behave well with her, and he will be forgiven by Allah. He (Hamza) says a ‘pious’ General Bajwa did the same thing when he was announced as Pakistan’s next army chief. He went first to his mother’s grave, raised his hands, prayed and cried, and thereafter, paid a visit to his childless maternal aunt ‘Safiya Begum’ and made her feel that he was her child in the absence of his mother.”Thus, the General salutes his important relatives after becoming Army Chief,” says Hamza in his article.Emphasizing that General Bajwa is a man who follows protocol, but knows when to keep it aside, Hamza recalls that when the former was formally declared Chief of Army Staff, superseding several of his seniors, he was particular about not making them feel awkward, and categorically told two of them, Lt Gen. Asfaq Nadeem and Lt. Gen. Javed Iqbal Ramday, that they need not follow protocol and resign, but should continue as Corp Commanders and complete their respective tenures.Both commanders were told by General Bajwa that life is short and protocol should not be allowed to come in between them.

Pakistan will splinter into 10 pieces if it doesn’t stop conspiring against India: Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday accused Pakistan of “conspiring” to divide India along religious lines and warned the neighbouring country that it would be “splintered” into 10 nations if it failed to quell terrorism.”Pakistan is conspiring to divide India on religious lines but it will not succeed. We were divided in 1947 on religious basis. We have not been able to forget that… All Indians are brothers, whether they are born from the womb of a Hindu mother or a Muslim mother,” he said addressing a Martyrs’ Day function in Kathua district.”We want to live in peace with Pakistan but it has indulged in sponsoring a proxy war against India. Every Prime Minister of India wanted to mend relations with Pakistan but it did not understand the language of peace and attacked India four times. But our brave soldiers gave them a befitting reply.”The Home Minister said Pakistan was waging the proxy war through terrorism, which is a weapon of the weak.”Terrorism is the weapon of the weak and not the brave,” he said.”Pakistan came into existence after India got divided on religious lines but it could not keep itself united. In 1971, it got split into two and, if it does not mend its ways, it will get splintered into 10 pieces and India will have no role in it,” he said.Singh said terror groups ISIS had the whole world worried because of its activities but failed to spread its roots in India because of the Muslims.”When the entire world is worried about ISIS, I can say it as the Home Minister of the country, as I know the reality that ISIS has not been able to spread its roots in India and the credit for this goes to the Muslims of the country, the followers of Islam,” he said.He said people might not know but when a member of somebody’s family got radicalised, others came to him to seek his help to save the child from the clutches of the ISIS.He also offered India’s cooperation to Pakistan to help eradicate the menace of terrorism from its soil.”If Pakistan is serious about eradicating terrorism but is incapable of doing that and wants cooperation, we are ready to help it eradicate terrorism from there,” the Minister said.Singh said India always wanted to have friendly relations with all its neighbours but Pakistan betrayed India and returned peace initiatives with terrorist attacks. “Narendra Modi, before the formation of his government, had held a party meeting and we decided if we want to make India a powerful country we need cooperation of all the neighbouring countries. So we decided to invite all the neighbouring heads of state/government and we invited Nawaz Sharif also, and he had come,” Singh said.”Sharif was invited not just to shake hands but let the hearts of the two countries to meet,” he said, adding Pakistan should understand “our intentions but it has failed to do so”.He also said Modi, “breaking all protocol”, went to attend a function in Sharif’s family while returning from Afghanistan.”We try our best that our neighbours live in peace with us. We want development of India as well as that of Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. All should progress. We want this. But what has Pakistan given us in return for our large-heartedness?”We got Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Uri where terrorists entered and launched cowardly attacks on our soldiers,” Singh said. “But we also showed them what we are capable of,” he added.”I thank our soldiers who succeeded in giving the message we cannot only hit them here but if need arises we can hit them anywhere,” Singh said, referring to the surgical strikes carried by the army inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.He said after Gurdaspur and Pathankot terror attacks, Pakistan had stated it wanted to cooperate and sent a team to India. “But after the team’s return to Pakistan, they refused to allow Indian SIT to visit Pakistan,” he said.

Pak says statement attributed to Sartaz Aziz on Kulbhushan Yadav ‘absolutely incorrect’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pakistan Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said that the statement attributed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav is ‘absolutely incorrect’.This comes after reports in the Pakistani media quoted Aziz saying that Islamabad does not have enough or conclusive evidence against Yadav. “In response to a media query regarding the Adviser to the Prime Minister”s statement in the full Senate Chamber pertaining to Kulbhushan Yadav, the arrested Indian Intelligence agency RAW”s operative, the Spokesperson said that the statement attributed to the Adviser is absolutely incorrect,” said the statement. It added that Aziz had instead said that the investigations regarding the network of Yadav are ongoing and the dossier shall be completed upon conclusion.”There is irrefutable proof against Kulbhushan Yadav, who had also made a public confession in March this year,” it said adding that, “The Adviser also condemned the continued Indian interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan and urged the international community to take immediate notice.” Yadav was arrested by the Pakistan authorities during a raid in Balochistan in March this year.According to the Pakistan Government, Yadav has admitted that he had been directing various activities in Karachi and Balochistan at the behest of RAW since 2013. He also confessed of playing a role in deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi. The Indian government, on the other hand, has issued at least five to six note verbales to the Pakistan foreign ministry to get consular access to Yadav, but Islamabad has till now showed no signs of allowing it.Pakistan has claimed that Yadav is a commander-rank officer with the Indian Navy, while India maintains that he retired from the Navy in 2002 and has had nothing to do with the Indian government when he was arrested from Balochistan. India has denied that Yadav is a spy and maintains that he is a businessman.

Sartaj Aziz not allowed to visit Golden Temple for security concerns: India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Citing security reasons for not allowing Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Indian government said that Islamabad has no reason to complain.According to sources, India extended conveniences keeping in mind security requirements, and therefore, Pakistan has no reason to complain.Sources were also of the view that India acted like a good host. Apart from extending tarmac access, giving additional rooms and providing armoured cars (not given to every foreign minister), their arrival was advanced in Amritsar by the more than twelve hours. Also, a fresh flight clearance was provided due to which Pakistan’s envoy could mark his presence at an official dinner on December 3.India even went to the extent of allowing the arrival and departure of Pakistan nationals, by air in Amritsar, which is not a designated airport for entry and exit.Pakistan, yesterday asserted that Aziz was neither allowed to visit the Golden Temple, nor was he allowed to speak to Pakistan media personnel present at the venue of the Heart of Asia Conference. Aziz was in India to participate in the Heart of Asia Summit held On December 4 in Amritsar.

Raheel Sharif may command international Islamic anti-terror force: Pakistan media

Islamabad: Pakistan’s former army chief, General Raheel Sharif (retd.) has agreed to command a multinational Islamic anti-terror force, on certain terms and conditions, including being allowed to arbitrate between belligerents, a media report said.

Raheel Sharif in this file photo. AFPRaheel Sharif in this file photo. AFP

Raheel Sharif in this file photo. AFP

Daily Pakistan, citing sources, reported that Sharif, who relinquished office of the army chief command last week, was willing to command the 39-nation Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) set up under Saudi Arabia’s auspices in December last year.

The report said that Iran has also assured to accept Pakistan’s role in mediating Yemen crisis if Sharif becomes IMAFT chief with an authority of arbitrator, and would use its influence on the Houthi rebels to bring them to the negotiating table.

It quoted the sources as saying that Sharif had expressed his willingness for the arbitration during his meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz.

The creation of IMAFT, with a joint command centre in Riyadh, was announced by Saudi Arabian Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud on December 15, 2015.

Initially with 34 members, the military alliance of Muslim countries spanning Nigeria to Malaysia intended to undertake military intervention against IS and other anti-terrorist activities across the Middle East and other countries, had risen to 39 by March 2016.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 22:07 IST

Pakistan media notes Modi-Aziz handshake in Amritsar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani media on Sunday took note of the handshake and exchange of niceties between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan prime minister’s advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz at Amritsar amid deadly border skirmishes and rhetoric.Aziz reached Amritsar last evening to attend the Heart of Asia conference, instead of this morning apparently to dodge early morning fog.The change of schedule provided a subtle opportunity for a handshake and exchange of pleasantries with Modi who hosted a banquet for the delegates.The Express Tribune under the front page headline “Aziz-Modi handshake sets off media frenzy” wrote that “After months of war rhetoric and deadly border skirmishes, Indian and Pakistani officials exchanged niceties and set the media abuzz on Saturday”.”With a broad smile on his face, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shook hands with Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz at a banquet he had hosted for the participants of the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar,” it reported.The paper reported that Modi also asked about the health of his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif who had recently undergone open heart surgery in a London hospital.Aziz conveyed “good wishes” to the Indian leader on behalf of Sharif.The Dawn reported that Aziz was received by Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit and the joint secretary of Indian Ministry of External Affairs.”Sartaj Aziz also sent a bouquet to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at her residence, extending his sincere good wishes for her full and speedy recovery,” it said.The News International reported that Modi shook hands with Aziz and inquired after the well-being of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from him.”Aziz said Nawaz Sharif is well and he has also expressed good wishes for him,” it further reported.It also reported that Aziz sent a bouquet to Swaraj at her residence extending good wishes for her speedy recovery.Pakistan was unanimous that no meeting between Pakistani and Indian officials on the sidelines was expected due to the ongoing bilateral tension.”Contrary to Indian media reports, no actual talks took place during the banquet. Nonetheless, the customary handshake after months of belligerence and hostilities set off media frenzy in both countries,” according to the Express Tribune.Relations between India and Pakistan have been strained following the Uri terror attack in September that killed 19 Indian soldiers.

Ahead of Sartaj Aziz’s visit, India says no bilateral meeting request from Pakistan

New Delhi: Just two days ahead of Pakistan foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz’s visit, India on Wednesday clarified that it has not officially received a request for any bilateral meeting from Islamabad.

File photo of Sartaj Aziz. Reuters

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz. File photo. Reuters

“Pakistan has not requested for any bilateral meeting so far,” Gopal Baglay, who heads the Ministry of External Affairs division dealing with Pakistan, said at a media briefing.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Foreign Policy Advisor Sartaj Aziz is scheduled to visit Amritsar, Punjab, on 3 December to attend the Heart of Asia Conference.

The conference, which will be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, will see the participation of over 40 countries.

This would be the first high-level visit from Pakistan after the announcement of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue in December last year, which never took off in the wake of terror strikes, including the Pathankot airbase attack, and subsequent incidents which led to intense tensions between the two countries.

Ties between India and Pakistan have soured after the terrorist attack on an army base in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir in September that left 19 soldiers dead and many wounded.

India has blamed Pakistan based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad for the attack.

India also recently boycotted the Saarc summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad in November, citing continuous cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 18:25 IST

New Pakistan army chief General Qamar Bajwa promises to improve situation at LoC

Rawalpindi: General Qamar Javed Bajwa, an expert in PoK affairs, on Tuesday took over as Pakistan’s new army chief succeeding Gen Raheel Sharif and promised to improve the tense situation at the Line of Control soon.

Gen Raheel handed over the command of world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers to 57-year-old Bajwa at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday appointed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) by elevating him to the rank of a four-star general.

Raheel in January had declared that he would not seek extension. There was speculation that the PML-N government would give him extension at the eleventh hour citing reasons that he was needed by the country to lead the war on terror. The post of the army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan.

After taking charge as the COAS from Raheel, Bajwa spoke to reporters.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa. AP

General Qamar Javed Bajwa. AP

“The situation at the LoC will improve soon,” he was quoted as saying by Geo News.

Bajwa sought support from the media to play a role in the keeping the morale of troops high. He said he had a heavy responsibility on his shoulders. Bajwa took over the command of the army in garrison city of Rawalpindi, where outgoing military chief Raheel handed over the symbolic baton at an impressive ceremony.

Several high level military and civilian officials attended the ceremony during which national songs and war anthems were played by traditional military bands.

His appointment coincides with the rising tensions and heavy exchange of fire at the LoC. Analysts believe Bajwa’s announcement that the LoC situation would improve might be a reconciliatory gesture towards India.

However, General Raheel was not so conciliatory in his final speech as the army chief, as he cautioned India against adopting an aggressive stance in Kashmir. Raheel, 60, said in recent months “India’s increasing terrorism and aggressive stance” in Kashmir have “endangered” the region. “India should know that mistaking our policy of patience for weakness would be dangerous,” he said.

“This is reality, that in South Asia, lasting peace and progress is impossible without solution of the Kashmir issue. For that, international community’s special attention is necessary,” he said. He also stressed the need for institutions to work together for the nation’s progress.

“It is important that all institutions work together against external threats and internal threats. For this, we will need to follow the National Action Plan in letter and spirit,” General Raheel said.

“The army will remain alert to threats, whether external or internal,” Raheel said.

For regional peace, he said, issues should be resolved politically. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a major factor in ensuring regional peace, he said.

“The departure of the first cargo from Gwadar port has shown this journey cannot be halted now,” he warned. “The time is here now that the enemies of CPEC stop working against it and become a part of it.”

Bajwa was eariler serving as Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation and also commanded the famed 10 Corps, the army’s largest, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC).

As a major general, Bajwa led the Force Command Northern Areas. He also served in the 10 Corps as lieutenant colonel. He also served with a UN mission in Congo as a brigade commander alongside former Indian army chief Gen Bikram Singh, who was also there as a division commander.

The new army chief has wide experience of LoC affairs due to his extensive involvement with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and northern areas.

According to reports, General Bajwa’s “pro-democracy credentials” and his low-profile influenced the Prime Minister to appoint him to the powerful post of army chief superseding four top generals. The military has been in charge of the country for more than half of Pakistan’s nearly 70-year history since independence from Britain.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 08:55 IST

Don’t mistake patience for weakness: Ex-Pak army chief sends warning to India over Kashmir

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>General Qamar Javed Bajwa, an expert in PoK affairs, on Tuesday took over as Pakistan’s new army chief succeeding Gen Raheel Sharif, who warned India against adopting an “aggressive stance” in Kashmir.Gen Raheel handed over the command of world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers to 57-year-old Bajwa at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday appointed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) by elevating him to the rank of four-star general. Raheel in January had declared that he would not seek extension. There were speculation that the PML-N government would give him extension at the eleventh hour citing reasons that he was needed by the country to lead war on terror. The post of Army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan.In his final speech as the army chief, 60-year-old Gen Raheel cautioned India against adopting an aggressive stance in the region. He said that in recent months “India’s increasing terrorism and aggressive stance” in Kashmir have “endangered” the region. “India should know that mistaking our policy of patience for weakness would be dangerous,” he said. “This is reality, that in South Asia, lasting peace and progress is impossible without solution of the Kashmir issue. For that, international community’s special attention is necessary,” he said.He also stressed the need for institutions to work together for the nation’s progress. “It is important that all institutions work together against external threats and internal threats. For this, we will need to follow the National Action Plan in letter and spirit,” Gen Raheel said. “The army will remain alert to threats, whether external or internal,” he said.For regional peace, he said, issues should be resolved politically. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a major factor in ensuring regional peace, he said. “The departure of the first cargo from Gwadar port has shown this journey cannot be halted now,” he warned. “The time is here now that the enemies of CPEC stop working against it and become a part of it.” Bajwa was eariler serving as Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation and also commanded the famed 10 Corps, the army`s largest, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC).(

Don’t mistake Pakistan’s ‘restraint’ for weakness: Raheel Sharif to India

Islamabad: Pakistan’s outgoing military chief warned India Tuesday it would be dangerous to mistake his country’s “restraint” over recent tensions in disputed Kashmir for weakness, as he handed over power to his successor.

The hugely popular General Raheel Sharif spoke at a colourful ceremony welcoming the incoming chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at a stadium at army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, adjacent to the capital Islamabad.

File image of Raheel Sharif. ReutersFile image of Raheel Sharif. Reuters

File image of Raheel Sharif. Reuters

“Unfortunately, in recent months, increasing state terrorism in (Indian) occupied Kashmir, and India’s aggressive steps have put the region’s peace in danger,” Sharif said.

“I want to make it clear to India that considering our policy of restraint a weakness would be dangerous for her,” he said to applause.

“This is reality, that in South Asia, lasting peace and progress is impossible without solution of the Kashmir issue. For that, international community’s special attention is necessary,” he continued.

Tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan have spiralled following a deadly assault on an Indian army base in September that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

India said it had responded to the September attack by carrying out “surgical strikes” across the heavily militarised border, sparking fury from Islamabad, which denied the strikes took place.

There have been repeated incidents of cross-border shellings and gunfire from both sides since, claiming the lives of dozens of people, including civilians.

Sharif spoke Tuesday as Indian police said armed militants had launched a fresh attack near the border with Pakistan, killing two soldiers.

Officials said the attack took place in Nagrota in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, which borders Pakistan and has seen repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing in recent weeks, and blamed it on “terrorists”.

Pakistan on Saturday named Bajwa as its new military chief as Sharif stepped down from a three-year tenure, winning praise for respecting democracy even as many Pakistanis called for him to extend his term.

Military bands played as uniformed soldiers marched at the ceremony Tuesday, where the outgoing chief gives his wooden cane to his successor, symbolising the handover of power.

The Pakistani military plays an outsize role in national life, offering the armed reassurance against arch-rival India that many Pakistanis see as vital to their identity.

Kashmir is one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints, bitterly divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 but claimed in full by both. The nuclear powers have already fought two wars over the mountainous region.

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 13:32 IST

Focus to remain on India border under new army chief General Bajwa, says Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With its new army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa set to take charge, Pakistan has asserted that focus will remain on country’s eastern border with India, even as the US nudged Islamabad to keep the pledge of not allowing use of its soil for terror attacks against neighbours.Bajwa will take charge of the world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers from Pakistan’s outgoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, who paid farewell visits to President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here today.Sharif and Hussain lauded Raheel’s valuable service as army chief and wished him the best for his post-retirement life, Radio Pakistan reported.”The military policy will continue and there will be no immediate change in it (under Bajwa),” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo News.”The focus will remain on country’s eastern border and the armed forces backed by the nation will meet all challenges,” he said.”The legacy of General Raheel Sharif would continue in the light of the examples he set,” Asif said.The Defence Minister expressed hope that the government and military leadership will continue to work together for the betterment of the country.General Raheel will become the first army chief in more than 20 years to step down at the end of his term. Previous army chiefs have either obtained extensions or in the case of General Pervez Musharraf, staged a coup.Meanwhile, the United States yesterday welcomed the appointment of the new army chief and expressed hope that the country would never allow the use of its soil for terrorism against its neighbours.The US embassy in Islamabad, in a statement, welcomed Prime Minister Sharif’s appointment of Bajwa.”We look forward to continuing our work with Pakistan’s elected leaders, with Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and with the Pakistani military to advance our shared counter-insurgency and counter terrorism goals for Pakistan and the region, and to enable Pakistani authorities to honour their pledge to prevent the use of Pakistan’s soil for terrorist attacks against its neighbours,” it said.Raheel, who is set to retire tomorrow, was appointed as army chief in 2013 by Prime Minister Sharif at the retirement of Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani.According to Pakistani media and experts, General Bajwa’s “pro-democracy credentials” and his low-profile influenced Sharif to appoint him to the powerful post of army chief superseding four top generals.The military has been in charge of the country for more than half of Pakistan’s nearly 70-year history since independence.

New Pak Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa considers extremism a ‘bigger threat to Pakistan’ than India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has extensive experience of handling affairs in PoK and the northern areas, was today appointed as Pakistan’s new army chief to succeed Gen Raheel Sharif. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appointed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) by elevating him to the rank of four-star general, officials said. Bajwa will take charge of the world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers in a formal handover on Tuesday, when General Raheel formally retires. Raheel in January had declared he would not seek extension. “I will retire on the due date,” he had said.There was speculation that the PML-N government would give him extension at the eleventh hour citing reasons that he was needed by the country to lead war on terror. The post of Army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan. Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja Asif has confirmed that Bajwa was appointed as COAS and Zubair Hayat as Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC).”May God help us in these decisions and new appointments,” he said. Bajwa was serving as Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation and has been elevated to position of four star general and appointed as Chief of Army Staff, the officials said. He has also commanded the famed 10 Corps, the army`s largest, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC).As a major general, he led the Force Command Northern Areas. He also served in the 10 Corps as lieutenant colonel. Even though Bajwa has been extensively involved with Kashmir and other northern areas, he is said to consider extremism to a bigger threat to Pakistan than India, reported He has also served with a UN mission in Congo as a brigade commander alongside former Indian army chief Gen Bikram Singh, who was also there as a division commander.Previously, he also remained the commandant of the Infantry School in Quetta. The new army chief has wide experience of LoC affairs due to his extensive involvement with PoK and northern areas, reports said here.His military colleagues say he is not attention-seeking and remains well-connected with his troops. The new army chief is from the infantry`s Baloch Regiment, which has given three officers to the post of army chief Gen Yahya Khan, Gen Aslam Beg and Gen Ashfaq Perviaz Kayani. Sharif appointed Chief of General Staff Lt Gen ZubairHayat as CJCSC by elevating him to the position of four-star general. He is the senior most serving army officer. Hayat is from the artillery. As a three-star general, he was previously posted as director general of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) and corps commander Bahawalpur. The most obvious man dropped while making the two key appointments by Prime Minister Sharif is Lt Gen Ishfaq Nadeem Ahmed who was serving Multan Corps Commander.Another officer left out is Bahawalpur Corps Commander Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday. There were two other senior officers overlooked, including Heavy Industrial Complex Taxila Chairman Lt Gen Syed Wajid Hussain and Director General Joint Staff Lt Gen Najibullah Khan.Another Lt Gen Maqsood Ahmed serving as military adviser with the United Nations is already on an extension and WAS not eligible for promotion. It is the record fifth time Sharif appointed an army chief as Prime Minister. If his botched attempt to replace Gen Pervez Musharraf with Ziauddin Butt in 1999 is also counted, this will be the sixth time Sharif appointed head of army.His earlier picks were Gen Asif Nawaz Janjua (1991), Gen Waheed Kakar (1993), Gen Musharraf (1998) and Gen Raheel Sharif (2013). Of the seven army chiefs after Gen Zia, five were handpicked by Sharif.After Gen Musharraf, all four-star generals in the army Gen Tariq Majid, Gen Khalid Shamim Wynne, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Gen Rashad Mehmood and Gen Raheel Sharif were from the infantry.Gen Musharraf was the last four-star general from the artillery.

Ceasefire violation: Pakistan says it will not give tit-for-tat response to Indian aggression

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Pakistan has vowed to defend its borders, waters and space against any attacks by the neighbouring country, however, reiterated its stance that it would not respond in any kind to Indian aggression.Adviser to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, speaking in the National Assembly on Friday hinted that talks with India will take place only if Kashmir issue is included in the agenda. “We are ready for a dialogue with India if the Kashmir issue is included in the agenda,” the Dawn quoted Aziz, as saying in his eight-minute-long speech on the floor of the house.Alleging that Indian forces have defied all international norms by attacking an ambulance at the LoC, he said that the situation has escalated following the attack in which 11 persons were killed. Aziz said that India wants to divert the world’s attention away from the Kashmir issue. The adviser further said the Kashmir cause is actively being taken forward by Pakistan since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif delivered his speech at the UN General Assembly “It is an indigenous freedom movement…led by youths. We will continue to offer political, diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiris,” Aziz said.Urging political parties to keep away from making political points on the Kashmir and the LoC, he said that it gives a wrong message to the rest of the world.Asserting that Pakistan would not come under any pressure, Aziz said that a befitting response would be given to India for any aggression in the border areas.

Pakistan won’t tolerate ‘deliberate targeting’ of civilians by India: Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad: Amid escalated border firing, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that Pakistan has shown utmost restraint in the face of Indian belligerence and will not tolerate India’s “deliberate targeting” of civilians and ambulances.

Sharif’s remarks, made during a high-level meeting chaired to review the LoC situation, came a day after Pakistan claimed that nine of its civilians and three soldiers were killed in firing by the Indian Army.

A file photo of Nawaz Sharif. AP

A file photo of Nawaz Sharif. AP

“We cannot tolerate deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, particularly children and women, the ambulances and the civilian transport,” Sharif said, Dawn reported.

Pakistan on Wednesday said three of its soldiers were killed in Indian firing along the Line of Control, while nine civilians were also killed as Indian troops allegedly targeted a passenger bus in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

“Pakistan has exercised maximum restraint despite the continuing ceasefire violations from the Indian side,” Sharif said.

Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and National Security Adviser Naser Janjua briefed the meeting about the “unprovoked Indian firing”.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that Indian troops fired at an ambulance which went into the area for evacuation.

At least 18 persons were injured in Wednesday’s firing, the ISPR said.

The meeting, also attended by Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General Rizwan Akhtar, paid tributes to the killed soldiers and deplored the targeting of the ambulance as a violation of International Humanitarian Law, a statement said.

Sharif reviewed the situation along the LoC and called upon the international community to play its active role in defusing tension between the two nations, “which has been deliberately escalated by the Indian side”, said the statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office.

The meeting concluded that India was trying to divert the attention of the international community “from the grave human rights violations, massacres and atrocities being committed by the Indian security forces” in Kashmir, it said.

In a related development, Pakistan Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman on Thursday said Pakistan’s armed forces were “not worried about India at all”.

Aman said: “We are not worried about India at all, it is better if they show some restraint.”

He called on India to resolve the Kashmir issue, saying: “They should speak on matters of principle and our ties will improve.”

The Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of Pakistan and India spoke to each other on Wednesday as tensions flared in the aftermath of deadly clashes on the LoC.

Firing exchanges and a bitter diplomatic war between the two neighbours have escalated after the September 18 killing of 19 Indian soldiers in a terror attack on an army base in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir.

First Published On : Nov 24, 2016 16:16 IST

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: ‘Highway of Terror’ turns operational at last

On 13 November, the under-development China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) became operational in the sense that the first convoy of trucks laden with Chinese goods traversing the CPEC’s 3,000-kilometre journey from Kashgar in China arrived at Gwadar and was further seen off in a Chinese ship from Gwadar to West Asia and Africa. Pakistan’s top civilian and military leaders were reportedly present at Gwadar to see off the Chinese ship.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated that Pakistan will provide the best possible security to foreign investors to enable them to use Gwadar for international trade. As per current plans, the CPEC is to absorb $46 billion of Chinese investment — $11 billion from the Chinese government and the remaining $35 billion from private companies in China. Pakistan expects its GDP to rise because of the CPEC and for 700,000 jobs to be created for Pakistanis.

File image of Pakistan's Gwadar Port. AFP

File image of Pakistan’s Gwadar Port. AFP

There is no denying that Chinese infrastructure development is very quick, whether in terms of the railway line to Lhasa and to Hairatan on the Afghanistan-Uzbekistan border (inaugurated on 7 September), the One-Belt-One-Road system, communications in Tibet, multiple gas and oil pipelines or the CPEC itself. Gwadar Port has been developed in record time by a Chinese company with China bearing the complete cost for its development; gratis to Pakistan. The road link from Karachi to Gwadar too was developed speedily. No Pakistani can enter Gwadar Port (guarded by the PLA) without a valid ID card. Pakistan is responsible for the security of the CPEC with all costs to be borne by Islamabad. The country has in fact has raised additional forces specifically to guard the CPEC, with a major portion of this special security force deployed in Balochistan.

There was commotion in Pakistan when then minister of Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan announced in 2011 that the US had been asked to vacate the Shamsi airbase even though the US had already ceased all operations from Shamsi three months earlier, after the Raymond Davis affair. Calls of national pride getting hurt were raised in letting a foreign power use Pakistani soil. But it finally emerged that Shamsi was built by Arab sheikhs for falcon-hunting in the early 1990s but had been occupied by the CIA since at least 2004, when Google Earth images showed Predator drones parked on the runway.

Confirmation came during the 13 May, 2011 joint session of Pakistan’s Parliament (held in camera) that the Shamsi airbase was under the purview of the UAE and not under the control of the Pakistani Air Force. Obviously, the civil-military hierarchy received hefty sums for handing over Shamsi to the UAE, as would have Nawaz and Raheel Sharif for bartering Pakistan’s sovereignty to China in exchange for Gwadar and the CPEC. Interestingly, Nawaz was also Prime Minister of Pakistan in the early 1990s.

According to analysts, economically it is 11 times cheaper to transport the same goods by sea even to and from China than through the CPEC, although the sea journey is longer. Of course, the CPEC is the alternative to China’s Malacca Dilemma should the Straits of Malacca be choked. The question here is whether the Malacca Dilemma is created by China on purpose and hyped for consumption by the Chinese people? If China’s intentions are ‘peaceful’ as bandied about perpetually and the world is for freedom of navigation and global commons, under what circumstances would the Straits of Malacca, and even Sunda Straits, be blocked for Chinese commercial ships and its navy, and for what duration?

Besides, how the blocking of these straits, especially the Straits of Malacca will adversely impact international trade of most countries of the world is another issue.

A closer examination would indicate that such an eventuality is highly unlikely, even with the Indian Ocean veering towards becoming the centre of gravity for future conflict, given the lethality and reach of modern era weaponry.

Under cover of economic activity for “mutual benefit” and “good for the region”, what China will never admit is that the CPEC is China’s Strategic Highway to the Indian Ocean. The Chinese are masters at strategic deception: Talk peace, prepare for war and conceal true intentions. The CPEC became even more important when Myanmar denied China the use of its territory for a similar strategic purpose. China keeps harping for India to join the CPEC but on the question of land access for India to Afghanistan and Central Asia, Beijing responds that the CPEC is only a bilateral arrangement with Pakistan.

The obvious intention is to keep India restrained, plus if the CPEC is only a ‘bilateral’ arrangement then why the façade of asking India to join it? Clearly, Gwadar is a future Chinese ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) base, which together with the Pakistani naval bases of Karachi and Omari to which China has access, would challenge India at sea.

File image of Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif. AP

File image of Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif. AP

But what should also be of most concern is the Chinese history of creating ‘depth’ to whatever it considers vital in strategic terms. Immediately, on ousting the Kuomintang regime, Mao Tse Tung announced, “Tibet is the palm of China and Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and North East Frontier Agency are its fingers”. Tibet was annexed by China also because it comprises 26 percent of China’s land and is the country’s water tower. Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia were captured to provide a buffer to the mainland. China captured 38,000 square kilometres of Jammu and Kashmir to give adequate depth to its Western Highway.

Going by the same analogy, what would be the Chinese strategy for providing ‘depth’ to the CPEC running through Pakistan (from North to South), which itself is obsessed about strategic depth? Moreover, the CPEC is running through Gilgit-Baltistan that is afflicted with public dissatisfaction and shifting it West is not possible because of the highly volatile FATA region. But most of the CPEC can’t avoid Balochistan where insurgency simmers because of the Pakistani genocide.

Under the circumstances, the CPEC can become the target of terror attacks. So what better strategy to provide depth to the CPEC but through sub-conventional operations (read terror attacks)? And precisely this appears to have been operationalised. China has deep links with Taliban even the membership based in Qatar, while Pakistan has a hold on both Talibans (through the Haqqani Network chief Sirajuddin Haqqani). The Islamic State in Afghanistan-Pakistan is the creation of Pakistan, and most importantly, all Pakistani proxies are also Chinese proxies. That is why with the strategic-yet-covert lodgment of the PLA in PoK and Pakistan, terror attacks in Afghanistan and violence in Jammu and Kashmir (including ceasefire violations by Pakistan) have shot up exponentially.

The Pakistani objective of carving out more Afghan territory for strategic depth (implying influence at sub-conventional level) is in sync with China’s strategic designs. Pakistan’s growing hostility towards India suits China similarly. Repeated terror attacks in Balochistan aids Pakistani designs to subdue the Balochi population and eliminate as many non-Sunnis as possible.

Terror attacks against Balochis suit China very well too as it discourages Balochi insurgents from any feeble attempts to disrupt the CPEC which is guarded by the Pakistani Army.

On balance, the CPEC has by default or design become a “Highway of Terror” – more for exporting terror than being subjected to terror attacks.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 12:01 IST

Kashmir: Nawaz Sharif claims Pakistan exercising restraint against Indian firing, cannot be bullied

Islamabad: Prime Minsiter Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said Pakistan cannot be bullied by Indian “tactics” and its restraint should not be “misunderstood” as weakness, warning that his country was fully capable of defending against “any belligerence”.

His remarks came a day after the Pakistan Army admitted that seven of its soldiers were killed in firing by Indian troops across the Line of Control (LoC) in Bhimber sector.

File photo of Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

File photo of Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

“Pakistan cannot be bullied by such tactics as we are fully capable of defending our soil against any belligerence,” Sharif said while chairing a high-level meeting to review the situation along the LoC.

He said Pakistan was exercising “maximum restraint” in the face of Indian firing, which should not be “misunderstood as our weakness,” The Express Tribune reported.

Expressing grief over the death of the seven soldiers, Sharif said deliberate escalation of tension along LoC by Indian forces is a threat to regional peace and security.

“It is also a futile attempt of the Indian authorities to divert the world’s attention from the worst kind of atrocities they are committing” in Kashmir, he said in a statement.

He called on the United Nations to take notice of the ceasefire violations along the LoC. “Our armed forces do not initiate fire but will always respond in a befitting manner to any aggression,” Sharif said.

On Monday, Army chief General Raheel Sharif ordered troops to “effectively” respond to firing by India across the LoC.

Earlier, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz briefed Nawaz Sharif on the increased firing and shelling by India.

He said the recent incidents of firing have led to 26 deaths and 107 injuries in complete violation of the 2003 ceasefire understanding and international law.

The premier was also briefed on Pak-US relations in the backdrop of recently held presidential elections in the US. Reaffirming to strengthen bilateral relations, Sharif said Pakistan and the US enjoy strong and strategic partnership spanning over a period of seven decades.

“Pakistan looks forward to closely work with the newly elected government for realisation of peace, security and prosperity in the region and beyond,” he said.

Pakistan’s National Security Adviser General Nasir Khan Janjua and other government officials were present during the meeting.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 17:57 IST

Pakistan denies following India’s footsteps in demonetising higher denomination notes

Islamabad: Pakistan, unlike India, will not demonetise Rs 5,000 notes or withdraw Rs 40,000 prize bonds, with Finance Minister rebuffing media reports, saying “these rumours are baseless and no such proposal is under consideration.”

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Monday made it clear that the government was not considering demonetisation of Rs 5,000 currency notes and withdrawal of Rs 40,000 prize bonds.

The minister said that these rumours are baseless and no such proposal is under consideration of the government, Dawn reported.

Haroon Akhtar Khan, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday had said the proposal to discontinue currency notes and prize bonds of the highest denomination was “under consideration”, the daily said.

Khan said the proposal came from the Tax Reforms Commission before the 2016-17 budget but the final decision was postponed and a tax reforms implementation committee was asked to look into it after the budget.

Presently, prize bonds are sold and purchased against cash without recording any identification of the seller and buyer. These are also traded in the open market and remain a major source of fraud and illegal activities.

Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Osman Saifullah Khan last week submitted a resolution in the Senate to demonetise 1,000 and 5,000 rupee notes to tackle corruption, citing the example of India which has withdrew 500 and 1,000 denominations of notes.

First Published On : Nov 15, 2016 15:00 IST

Imran Khan says he expects Pakistani Supreme Court inquiry to topple Sharif | Reuters

Imran Khan says he expects Pakistani Supreme Court inquiry to topple Sharif | Reuters

Updated: Nov 2, 2016 20:05 IST


By Syed Raza Hassan

ISLAMABAD Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan said on Wednesday that he expected a Supreme Court corruption investigation to topple Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and repeated his calls for Sharif to resign immediately.The court on Tuesday agreed to Khan’s request to set up a judicial commission to probe Khan’s corruption allegations against Sharif, stemming from revelations that his children owned offshore companies in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.Khan then backed down on his threat to paralyse Islamabad by bringing in a million protesters, defusing tensions after days of clashes between his supporters and the police. Instead he decided to hold a “celebratory” rally on the edge of the capital, where he accused Sharif and his younger brother Shahbaz, the chief minister of Punjab province, of being responsible for the clashes between police and supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.”Hopefully within this month … we will see the end of the dark night of the Sharifs,” the former cricketer told tens of thousands of supporters.”My anger is against these two cowards, these jackals of Pakistan, for making (Pakistanis) fight one another.”

The Supreme Court is due to hold its first substantive hearing on the matter on Thursday.Sharif’s ruling party has said it will participate in an investigation into Panama Papers revelations but rejected an opposition demand that it should focus principally on Sharif’s family. The Court has said it will set the terms of the commission itself if the parties cannot agree on them at once.Khan’s challenge stems from documents leaked from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm that appeared to show that Sharif’s daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Sharif’s family denies wrongdoing, and there was no mention of Sharif himself owning any offshore companies.Holding offshore companies is not illegal in Pakistan, but Khan has implied that the money and London apartments held by the companies, amounting to millions of dollars, were gained by corrupt means. Khan’s threat of a “shutdown” protest had sparked fears of a repeat of demonstrations in 2014, where thousands of his supporters paralysed Islamabad’s government quarter for several months over allegations of election rigging.

In a bid to foil the “shutdown”, authorities arrested scores of PTI supporters and shut a major motorway leading from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Khan’s political heartland.The capital was calm on Wednesday, though there was still a heavy police presence.Khan admitted in May that he himself had used an offshore company to legally avoid paying British tax on a London property sale. (Writing by Asad Hashim; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Kevin Liffey)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Sharif pursuing Modi’s interests in Pakistan: Imran Khan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Imran Khan, on Sunday, accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of pursuing his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s interests in Pakistan as the government cracked down on the cricketer-turned-politician’s supporters with police arresting over 100 of them.”When Nawaz Sharif went to London for whatever kind of surgery, he on the hospital bed first telephoned Modi instead of his mother or children,” Imran told a press conference outside his Bani Gala residence here, referring to Sharif’s open heart surgery at a London hospital in May. “Nawaz is following Modi’s ‘interests’ in Pakistan. Nawaz is behind the security leaks story which defamed the armed forces. Actually his and Modi’s agenda is same,” the Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf Chairman said. Imran asserted that “everybody knows” that sacked Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid cannot leak sensitive information to the media on his own.Sharif, on Saturday, sacked Rashid over the recent “leaked” media report about a rift between the civilian and military leaderships on support to militancy. “Rashid is a darbari (courtier) and he did what Nawaz told him to do so,” Imran said. “The whole state machinery is being used to save a corrupt Prime Minister. I will not accept a ‘suspect’ as Prime Minister of Pakistan. As long as I am alive I will not go after Nawaz Sharif’s corruption,” the 64-year-old leader said. Imran stressed that there was no difference between Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship and Sharif’s democracy. He asked under what law his party workers are being arrested and roads blocked. “Our legal team will move the court tomorrow,” Imran stated. Police arrested over 100 Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf protesters trying to reach party chief Imran’s residence. Police also baton-charged protesters in the Pakistan Chowk area. Police used tear-gas and baton to stop the PTI activists from reaching Bani Gala residence of Imran. However, no PTI worker suffered serious injuries.Meanwhile, Islamabad police said they recovered five Kalashnikov rifles, a pistol, six magazines, a bulletproof vest, alcohol and three tear gas shells from PTI leader Amin Gandapur’s car outside Bani Gala. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Revenue Minister Amin Gandapur’s car was stopped at a checkpost and searched. The car was impounded and Gandapur’s driver was detained by police, Dawn News reported. The Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf has announced locking down Islamabad on November 2 to pressure Sharif to resign in connection with probe into his off shore holdings revealed in Panama Papers. The government has already blocked provincial roads to the capital and arrested around 1,000 Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf workers. Clashes erupted between police and Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf (PTI) in Islamabad and some parts of Punjab province ahead of the party’s November 2 planned lock down of the capital aiming to unseat Sharif. Imran also said Sharif and his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif were using the whole state machinery to save a corrupt prime minister. According to former Punjab governor and PTI leader Chaudhry Sarwar, so far Punjab and Islamabad police have arrested 1,000 Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers. He said police was not only arresting the PTI workers heading to Islamabad but also from their homes. The Punjab government has started blocking all entry points leading to the federal capital. The government’s decision was causing immense inconvenience to commuters.Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the government had closed roads near Attock to check the movement of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers into Punjab because they are planning to head towards Islamabad. However, he said no other roads in the province had been blocked “completely” though snap-checking of all those heading towards the federal capital was being carried out. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government spokesman Mushtaq Ghani said that the federal and Punjab governments had converted the province into a prison by placing barriers on roads. He said Prime Minister Sharif could “punish” the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers but he had no right to create hardship for the people of the entire province. The Peshawar-Islamabad motorway has also been closed at one point while barricades have also been placed at Mardan and Nowshera roads. Heavy contingents of police have been deployed on various roads leading to Islamabad while transporters had been warned against facilitating the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf supporters.

Quetta terror attack: India trying to create ‘chaos’ in Pakistan, says Imran Khan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After 61 people were killed in twin suicide attacks as terrorists stormed a police training college in Quetta, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has lashed out at India for trying to ‘implode’ Islamabad under a new ‘doctrine’.Speaking to reporters outside his residence, the PTI chief asserted that India was aware it could not defeat a nuclear-armed state militarily, which is why it was trying to create chaos within the nation, Dawn reports.”It is strange that whenever we start doing something, something major happens in the country. It is apparent that India is trying to implode Pakistan. Under this doctrine, it wants to create chaos in Pakistan and wants the ongoing reform movement against corruption in the country to fail,” he said.Earlier, Khan had alleged that India was helping Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying that whenever the government came under pressure, tensions would flare up along the LoC.He added that the Quetta attack could be a part of the Indian doctrine of chaos in Pakistan.Branding Prime Minister Sharif a ‘security risk’ for Pakistan, Khan accused the government of failing to stop terror-funding in the country, which was an important part of the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism.

Pak tackling terror, turning around economy: Sharif assures IMF chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Monday that his country has achieved major successes in eliminating militancy and turning around the economy. He stated this in a meeting with Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) who called on him.The prime minister said that the tireless efforts of the economic team of the government have “turned around the Pakistani economy” in a short span of three years. “We are successfully delivering on the major challenges of terrorism, economy and power shortages that we inherited from the previous governments,” he said.He said Pakistan has dismantled the terrorists’ networks and even presently 200,000 troops remained deployed in the northern part of our country to completely eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country.”More than 24,000 precious human lives have been lost, about 50,000 wounded while our economy suffered a loss of USD 100 billion in this war against terrorism,” he said.The prime minister said that though the situation is under control, but the armed forces are still working hard to dismantle the remaining hideouts of terrorists from the country. He said that the government’s ongoing endeavours include addressing energy shortfall at the earliest and improving the country’s infrastructure and communication networks. He said that the government was focussed on increasing the economic growth and then take it to the next level by ensuring the trickledown effect of the economic gains achieved by our government.”We want to further reduce our expenditures, increase our exports and lower down the cost of production for our industrial and agriculture sectors,” he said. He said that his government is setting up power projects in hydel-power, coal, LNG and would be able to eliminate the power shortages from the country by the year 2018. He further said that there is no load shedding for the industrial sector and the focus is on producing cheaper and affordable electricity.”We are also committed to provide social protection to the poor and vulnerable people of our society for which our government has increased the budgetary allocation to BISP (Benazir Income Support Program) from Rs 40 to Rs 120 billion in the last three years. The poor families covered under this programme have been increased from 3 million to 5.6 million families,” said Sharif.Appreciating IMF’s assistance for Pakistan’s economic recovery and macroeconomic stability, the prime minister said that the present government has achieved economic stability by pursuing a comprehensive reforms agenda.In response to a question, Sharif said that Pakistan is sincere to help in bringing stability to Afghanistan which is also in the interest of Pakistan.”Peace and stability and Afghanistan would ensure peace in Pakistan and the region as well,” said Sharif.The prime minister further said that better management of the border with Afghanistan is also pro-actively pursued by Pakistan to safeguard the porous border. Lagarde lauded the prime minister for steering the country out of multiple challenges and achieving macroeconomic stability in a short period of time. She also noted the successful completion of the IMF programme which has helped Pakistan restore its macroeconomic stability, reduce vulnerabilities and make progress in tackling key structural challenges.”It is a fantastic step in your journey that you have achieved a better and solid economic position in a brief period of two years,” she said.Lagarde said that completion of IMF programme reflects very positively on the country. She said Pakistan is now in a better fiscal position and certainly out of economic crisis. She said that the economic growth has gradually increased; fiscal deficit has reduced while inflation has continuously declined in Pakistan. She also appreciated the country’s strengthened social safety nets and tax policy and administration reforms.

Resolution of Kashmir issue will ensure peace in the region: Nawaz Sharif

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said Kashmir is the “core issue” between India and Pakistan and its resolution would ensure durable peace in the region. “Kashmir issue must be resolved according to the UN resolutions as per the commitments made by the Indian Government,” Sharif told British National Security Adviser Sir Mark Lyall Grant, who called on him at PM House here.Sharif said Kashmir is the “core issue” between India and Pakistan and its resolution would ensure durable peace in the region as he urged the world to take note of alleged human rights violations there, officials said.”The world community must take a note of the grave human rights violations and atrocities” in Kashmir, he said and claimed that over hundred people have been brutally killed, hundreds have been blinded by the use of pellet guns while thousands have been injured in the last few months alone.Sharif said that Pakistan is peace loving country and pursues the policy of maintaining friendly relationships with all its neighbours, they said. Grant appreciated his policy of reaching out to the neighbours for establishing cordial relationships with them. “We encourage and support your efforts for peaceful cooperation with your neighbouring countries,” Grant said.He said that the commitment of political government and armed forces, supported by the people of Pakistan have resulted into phenomenal victory against terrorism, referring to operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ in the northwestern tribal region. Grant congratulated the Prime Minister on successfully completing the IMF support programme and achieving macroeconomic stability.The British NSA also called on Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif at army headquarters today. “Matters of mutual interest and regional security came under discussion. The visiting dignitary acknowledged the significant achievements made by Pakistan in their fight against terrorism and continued efforts for regional peace and stability,” said a statement issued by the army.

dna Evening Must Reads: Senior Congress leader joins BJP, security of 3.2 million debit cards compromised and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1) Senior UP Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi joins BJP; hits out at Rahul for ‘khoon ki dalali’ remarkAhead of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, senior Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi on Thursday joined Bharatiya Janata Party and hit out at Rahul Gandhi for his “khoon ki dalali” remarks. Addressing media, Rita Bahuguna Joshi said, “Today I have resigned from Congress to join BJP. Developments in recent past have left me numb.” Read more…2) Panama papers: Pakistan SC issues notice to Nawaz Sharif, others in corruption casePakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members in the ‘Panama Papers’ leaks case, acting on petitions seeking his disqualification over alleged corruption and illegally possessing assets abroad. The court heard several petitions, including by Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which accused Sharif and his family members of illegally transferring money abroad after the Panama Papers leaks showed his family of possessing properties in the UK. Read more…3) Security of 3.2 million debit cards compromised, forensic probe ordered: ReportA forensic probe has been ordered after security codes of as many as 3.2 million debit cards on various platforms were reportedly compromised. According to Economic Times, several victims have reported unauthorised usage from locations in China and the card holders are being asked by the banks to change their security codes. The report says that the State Bank of India (SBI), HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, YES Bank and Axis Bank are among the worst hit. Of the cards affected, 600,000 cards belong to the RuPay platform while 2.6 million are believed to be on the Visa and Master-Card platform. Read more…4) Trump calls Clinton’s tax plan a disaster; compares India’s growth rate with ‘dying’ US economyRepublican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Thursday cited India and China’s high growth rates to compare them with America’s economy, which he said is “dying”, as he slammed his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s plans to boost the economy and called her tax plan a disaster. As the two candidates came face-to-face for the third and final presidential debate at the University of Nevada here, just three weeks before the elections, they sparred on issues concerning the economy, nuclear weapons, Russia and their fitness to be US President. Read more…5) JNU: VC, other officials allowed to go; HM asks police to set up special team to trace missing studentJawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar and other officials who were confined on the campus premises by a section of students, who were protesting over a missing hostel inmate, were allowed to go after being held for 22 hours. The students, who are agitating over alleged inaction by the university in the case of missing student Najeeb Ahmed, have temporarily called off their gherao and allowed the VC and some other officials to come out of the building where there were held since Wednesday afternoon. They were allowed to leave to attend an important academic council. Read more…6) ADHM row: HM Rajnath Singh assured support for film’s release without any violence, says Mukesh BhattUnion Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured full support for the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM) in cinema halls, said Film & Television Producers Guild of India president Mukesh Bhatt. Speaking to media after their meeting, Mukesh Bhatt said, “Rajnath Singh ji assured us 100% support and that he will convey to CM to maintain law and order.” He also said that the Home Minister said he would speak to the chief minister of every state and that ADHM will release without any violence or issue. Read more…

Pak-China ‘all weather’ ties based on shared interests: Nawaz Sharif

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan and China’s “all weather” relationship is based upon shared principles and interests that form the foundation of cooperation in diverse fields, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Wednesday. Sharif stated this when he met Bank of China chairman Tian Guoli who called on him here. “Highlighting China’s great support to Pakistan in security, trade and infrastructure development, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan and China have a shared future and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the largest comprehensive project with any foreign country,” according to an official statement.”CPEC is a fusion of multiple development projects, aimed at the prosperity and well-being of the citizens of the country and the region at large,” it quoted Sharif saying. The prime minister said that Pakistan has a vibrant banking system that has achieved high level of profitability, improved liquidity and strong solvency position.Sharif said sound capital base, remarkable growth in assets and profitability and compliance with international standards has poised Pakistan’s banking sector in a very competitive position in the region for investors.He said foreign ownership in Pakistan’s banking sector has consistently and considerably increased and the government has recently concluded USD 700 million financing agreement with China Development Bank which is the first such interaction with the Chinese banking industry.Tian lauded the vision of Sharif for putting the country on development path and turning around the economy. Tian said that CPEC has huge economic benefits for the people of Pakistan and the region.

Pakistan Army warns India against any ‘misadventurism’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Army on Friday warned India that any “misadventurism” by it will be met with the “most befitting response” and dismissed as a “hoax” India’s assertion of surgical strikes across the LoC in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir to destroy terrorist launchpads.During a Corps Commanders’ Conference presided over by army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, the Pakistan Army rejected the Indian stand “as an attempt to divert attention” from Kashmir.”Rejecting the absurd Indian claims of hoax surgical strikes as an attempt to divert world’s attention, away from brutalities being committed by Indian Army against innocent Kashmiris, the forum resolved that any attempt of misadventurism and irresponsible act will be met with the most befitting response,” the army said in a statement.The latest reaction from the Pakistan Army came nearly two weeks after India said it carried out “surgical strikes” across LoC and destroyed terrorist launchpads on September 28. India also said that it inflicted heavy casualties on terrorists and their supporters.Tensions have ran high between the two countries since the terror attack on an Indian army base in Uri on September 18. Pakistan has denied any surgical strikes took place, but said two of their soldiers were killed in cross-border firing by Indian Army.During Friday’s meeting, Pakistan Army expressed “complete satisfaction over operational preparedness of the troops.” Gen Shareef reiterated Pakistan Army’s resolve to defend the country against any threat, according to the statement.The participants resolved to continue sustained and focused combing and intelligence-based operations across the length and breadth of Pakistan to uproot terrorism harmonising it with implementation of National Action Plan (NAP) to address extremism and other causes of terrorism.

Masood Azhar’s surgical strike on Pakistan is deadlier than the one carried out by India

Masood Azhar just did a surgical strike on Pakistan more effective than the one carried out by Indian Army’s Special Forces on 29 September. In one editorial, published in the newest issue of terror outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad’s weekly pamphlet, he blew away Nawaz Sharif’s fig leaf and made Islamabad stark naked in its brazen bullying glory before the entire world. In the process, the JeM chief also raised some uncomfortable questions for China ahead of President Xi Jinping’s Brics visit to India.

Masood Azhar. ReutersMasood Azhar. Reuters

Masood Azhar. Reuters

During last month’s UNGA address in New York, Nawaz Sharif had stretched the last tendril of credulity when he went against history, reason and a mountain of evidence and proclaimed Kashmir violence as a “popular and peaceful freedom movement” led by “young leader Burhan Wani”.

Taking into account the pulls and pressures of Pakistani Deep State over its civilian government; Nawaz’s compulsions of ratifying Pakistan’s prized assets in the hybrid war against its neighbours; the need to stoke the embers of Kashmir fire — the speech was still a bravura display of defiance where the Prime Minister of a nation was found openly backing a self-declared militant of a designated terrorist organisation from the ramparts of UN. It showed Islamabad’s steady flight down the nihilistic slope of terrorism on the wings of denial.

Masood’s appeal to the Pakistan government to let loose the dogs of terrorism and use the ‘historic opportunity’ to snatch Kashmir, therefore, is the next logical step to Nawaz’s UN address. He was merely ratifying what the Pakistan PM had said and the world (except China and the House of Saud) already knew.

More interestingly, however, Masood’s address provides the context for Kashmir violence. It lays bare the reasons behind Pakistan’s Kashmir obsession — the need to avenge 1971 humiliation and the burning ambition for one Islamic Ummah in the Indian subcontinent. And it exposes, not for the first time, Rawalpindi’s historic role behind the insurgency and its steely resolve to use all terrorist groups, “non-state actors” and tools of insurgency at its command to engage ‘Hindustan’ in a never-ending jihad.

“If the government of Pakistan shows a little courage, the problem of Kashmir, as well as the dispute over water, can be resolved once and for all right now. If nothing else, the government simply has to open the path for the mujahideen. Then, god willing, all the bitter memories of 1971 will be dissolved into the triumphant emotions of 2016,” reads Azhar’s front-page editorial, according to Praveen Swami in The Indian Express.

In the editorial, Azhar exhorts Pakistan’s policymakers and argues that the “jihadist policies it backed in the 1990s had brought strategic benefits to the country” and left India profusely bleeding, with “every one of its limbs badly injured”. He goes on to add that “what remained of India’s military prowess was exposed in Pathankot and Uri,” according to the newspaper.

Shorn of rhetoric, this is the damnedest indictment yet of Pakistan’s hand behind the twin terror attacks and yanks off the last vestige of Islamabad’s deniability. It is difficult to name and shame a puppet government but it could be worthwhile taking a reaction from Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who claimed that Uri was “staged by India itself” to malign Pakistan and take focus away from Kashmir, on what he made of Masood Azhar’s statement.

The JeM founder, who was released by the NDA government in 1999 in exchange for kidnapped 155 passengers and crew members of IC 814, writes further that “terror in Kashmir has weakened India” dramatically and a comparative evaluation of “India before and after the jihad in Kashmir” shows that it has “reduced from a serpent to an earthworm.”

“When we entered the tent of the jihadist movement,” writes Azhar, “it had no branch in Kashmir, nor was there lightning in Iraq or Syria. There were just two fronts, in Afghanistan and Palestine… We have watched as the jihad we befriended grew from a glowing ember into the sun…”, according to the newspaper.

The Indian Army unit that crossed over into the LoC and rained fire on launch pads, could destroy just five of the substantial terror infrastructure. Masood, through one article, established the chain that links jihad in Kashmir to global terrorism.

As Firstpost had argued back in July (Not Burhan Wani, it’s Pakistan’s proxy war that’s behind Kashmir tragedy, the neutralising of Burhan Wani wasn’t an inflection point in “Kashmir intifada” as Pakistan would have the world believe, but merely the kicking off of the latest phase in a long history of Rawalpindi-manufactured violence.

Masood’s statement indicates the extent of Pakistan’s collusion in The Kashmir Project — a venture launched by that humiliated and bitter former ISI chief Lt Gen Hamid Gul in mid-1970s. Right from Kalashnikov-wielding Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) militants in early 90s to Hizbul Mujahideen, from Lashkar-e-Taiba to Jaish-e-Mohammed, the history of “peaceful and popular freedom movement” is now clear.

For Beijing, the al-Qalam editorial poses some tough questions. Only last week China’s state-controlled media had accused India of seeking “political gains” in getting UN to ban Masood Azhar. It would be interesting to note now how China justifies its stand of extending “technical hold” on designating the JeM founder as a global terrorist whom India has accused of masterminding the attacks on Indian Parliament in 2001 and on an IAF base in Pathankot, the last of which has been acknowledged by Masood himself.

If Beijing continues to stand as the only impediment behind Azhar’s designation as a terrorist, it would have done a cost-benefit analysis of the losses it may suffer by withdrawing the hold in terms of its heavy investment in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Beijing’s conduct over the South China Sea should tell us just how ‘seriously’ it takes global opinion when it comes to own strategic interests. So it would be foolish to think that Masood’s statement will force its hand any which way. What it may do is make its bargaining chip vis-à-vis India a little weaker. A position New Delhi would no doubt have noted ahead of the Brics Summit.

Pakistan should build ties with India to take on USA: Terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed called upon Pakistan to shift its focus from India to USA. According to a report in India Today, Saeed said Pak ought to build relations with India to take on USA. Mocking India and USA, he said: “There is a bounty worth crores on me but in the last five years US could not achieve anything out of it. I am at peace when India gets worried about me or when US comes to Pakistan asking about me.” He also slammed the Pak government for letting down Kashmiris saying: “Kashmiris are laying down their lives… the problem is with those sitting in Parliament in Pakistan, who have been voted to power by you. They are the real roadblocks because they have to look the US’ way.”He urged the Pak government to build ties with India, stating the US would block such an effort. Speaking about being ‘globally isolated’, he said India would understand ‘isolation’ when Kashmir gets freedom. He said: “All parties should come together for Kashmir’s freedom. India cannot do anything. Don’t remember the US but remember Allah.” He also claimed that the surgical strikes were ‘drama’ and exposed India’s ‘false bravado’.Earlier, a lawmaker from Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party has questioned the government over its continued patronage to JuD chief and mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack Hafiz Saeed, describing it as a reason for international isolation of the country.”Which eggs is Hafiz Saeed laying for us that we are nurturing him? The efficacy of our foreign policy speaks for itself when we could not curtail Hafiz Saeed,” PML-N parliamentarian Rana Muhammad Afzal said during a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday.”India has built such a case against us about the JuD chief that during the meeting on Kashmir, foreign delegates mention Saeed as the bone of contention between Pakistan and India,” Afzal said.He recalled his recent trip to France, where he had been tasked to explain the worsening situation in Kashmir and said that the name of Saeed was brought up time and again by foreign delegates as he is considered a ‘notorious character’ in international circles.Furious over Afzal’s remarks, Saeed asked Sharif to take action against such people in the ruling party. “I caution Nawaz Sharif to be aware of his ‘foolish friends’ who are hurting the Kashmir cause. They must have some hidden agenda which the premier should dig out,” Saeed said in response. He said such elements are trying to create differences between the Pakistan army and the civilian government and this will be very dangerous for the country.(With agency inputs)

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper says it will defend itself against allegations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A leading Pakistani newspaper on Tuesday rejected allegations of “vested interest and false reporting”, a day after the government imposed a travel ban on its journalist for reporting on a rift between civil and military leaderships over covert support to militants.Dawn came out with a scathing editorial, saying Cyril Almeida’s story on the verbal clash between government and military – which has generated a lot of heat in the country – was “duly verified and correct piece of reporting.” Almeida, a columnist for Dawn, on Tuesday said he has been put on Exit Control List – a border control system maintained by Pakistan government which allows it to bar people whose names appear on the list from leaving the country.He had reported that leading civilian officials had warned the powerful army to renounce its covert support to militants like the Haqqani network, Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – or face international isolation.”This paper recently reported an extraordinary closed-door meeting between top government and intelligence officials where the foreign secretary briefed them on what he saw as Pakistan’s growing international isolation; following this, there was a discussion on the impediments in the way of dealing with the problem of militancy in the country,” the daily said in the editorial titled ‘Reaction to Dawn story’.”As gatekeeper of information that was ‘verified, cross-checked and fact-checked’, the editor of this paper bears sole responsibility for the story in question,” it said.It said in accordance with the principles of fair and balanced journalism, Dawn twice carried the denials issued by the Prime Minister’s Office about the clash during a meeting when the ISI was told by civilian leadership that its covert support to militants led to Pakistan’s isolation globally.”Journalism has a long and glorious tradition of keeping its promise to its audience even in the face of enormous pressure brought to bear upon it from the corridors of power,” it said apparently referring to the pressure tactics such as Almeida’s name being put on ECL and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s assertion two days ago that “stern action” will be taken against those responsible for the story, which his office called “fabricated”.The daily acknowledged that “while any media organisation can commit an error of judgement and Dawn is no exception, the paper believes it handled the story in a professional manner and carried it only after verification from multiple sources.”It demanded that Almeida’s name should “at once” be removed from the list of people banned to leave the country so that some of the government’s dignity could be salvaged.

Indians burn Sharif-themed Ravana effigies on Dussehra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> After the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), people in several parts of the country have decided to burn an effigy of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with the heads of several militant organisations this evening to mark the conclusion of the 10-day festival of ‘Dussehra’. Dussehra is celebrated across the country as a victory of good over evil. Deep anti-Pakistan sentiments prevail in the country after a series of militant attacks in Kashmir since last month. Along with Sharif, effigies of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an Islamist charity linked to outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have also been set up at several places. ‘Apart from effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran, Meghnad, the effigy of Nawaz Sharif, who is promoter of terrorism, has also been made. The 125 feet effigies will be burnt together,” said Ramlila Committee organiser Rajesh Gehlot in New Delhi.Dussehra is regarded as the day when Hindu Lord Ram defeated Ravana, demon-king of Lanka (Sri Lanka) and rescued his abducted wife, Sita. In Ludhiana also, huge effigies of Sharif and Sayeed have been put up to be torched later in the evening. ‘The effigies of both (Nawaz Sharif and Hafiz Saeed), who represent evil forces, will be burnt. Therefore, we have made effigies of Hafiz Saeed and Nawaz Sharif,’ said a local, Parminder Kaka. Tension between India and Pakistan escalated sharply after militants attacked Uri on of September 18 that killed 19 soldiers.On September 29, India announced launch of surgical strikes against suspected militants trying to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.(ANI)

Top Pak journalist who reported rift between civilian govt & military barred from leaving country

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A prominent journalist has been barred from leaving Pakistan after he reported on a suspected rift between civilian and military leaderships during a crucial meeting in which the ISI was told its support for terrorist groups was leaving the country globally isolated.Cyril Almeida, a columnist and reporter for the Dawn, tweeted that he has been told he has been put on ‘Exit Control List’ – a system of border control maintained by Pakistan government under an ordinance which allows it to bar people whose names appear on the list from leaving the country.”Puzzled, saddened. Had no intention of going anywhere; this is my home. Pakistan,” Almeida tweeted.The development came less than a week after he wrote a front-page story in the daily about a rift between Pakistan’s civilian and military leaderships over militant groups that operate from Pakistan but engage in war against India and Afghanistan.On October 6, Almeida, citing sources, reported in the widely-read daily that the civilian government has told the military leadership of a growing international isolation of Pakistan due to alleged support for militancy.Pakistan government has thrice denied the story since.The Foreign Office vehemently rejected the report and termed it “speculative”. Yesterday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered authorities to take “stern action” against those responsible for publishing the “fabricated” story.”Prime Minister took serious notice of the violation and directed that those responsible should be identified for stern action,” according to an official statement.Almeida’s scoop came amidst a backdrop of heightened tension between India and Pakistan following the attack on an Indian army base in Uri on September 18 in which 19 soldiers were killed by Pakistan backed terrorists from the Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit.On September 29, India carried out “surgical strikes” on seven terror launch pads across the LoC, and the Army said it had inflicted “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.Pakistan has denied the surgical strike by India but has claimed two of its soldiers were killed in alleged ceasefire violations along the LoC by Indian troops.

Pakistani journalist put on Exit Control List for reporting rift between Pakistan govt and military

A prominent journalist has been barred from leaving Pakistan after he reported on a suspected rift between civilian and military leaderships during a crucial meeting in which the ISI was told its support for terrorist groups was leaving the country globally isolated.

Cyril Almeida, a columnist and reporter for the Dawn, tweeted that he has been told he has been put on ‘Exit Control List’ — a system of border control maintained by Pakistan government under an ordinance which allows it to bar people whose names appear on the list from leaving the country.

“Puzzled, saddened. Had no intention of going anywhere; this is my home. Pakistan,” Almeida tweeted.

The Exit Control List is a system of border control maintained by the Government of Pakistan under the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Ordinance.

Almeida’s story about the “unprecedented” showdown between the Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, and the army’s spy chief General Raheel Sharif triggered a controversy when it was published on 6 October.

Almeida was booked on a Tuesday morning flight to Dubai for a holiday with family. But on Monday evening he received word that he would not be allowed to board the plane.

Dawn’s editor Zaffar Abbas posted on Facebook, defiantly defending the newspapers position.

The development came less than a week after he wrote a front-page story in the daily about a rift between Pakistan’s civilian and military leaderships over militant groups that operate from Pakistan but engage in war against India and Afghanistan.

On 6 October, Almeida, citing sources, reported in the widely-read daily that the civilian government has told the
military leadership of a growing international isolation of Pakistan due to alleged support for militancy.

Pakistan government has thrice denied the story since.

The Foreign Office vehemently rejected the report and termed it “speculative”. On Monday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered authorities to take “stern action” against those responsible for publishing the “fabricated” story.

“Prime Minister took serious notice of the violation and directed that those responsible should be identified for stern action,” according to an official statement.

Almeida’s scoop came amidst a backdrop of heightened tension between India and Pakistan following the attack on an Indian army base in Uri on 18 September in which 19 soldiers were killed by Pakistan-backed terrorists from the
Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit.

On 29 September, India carried out “surgical strikes” on seven terror launch pads across the LoC, and the Army said it had inflicted “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Pakistan has denied the surgical strike by India but has claimed two of its soldiers were killed in alleged ceasefire violations along the LoC by Indian troops.

Various senior journalists stood in support of Almeida and criticised Pakistani government’s actions. #StandWithCyril was seen trending.

With inputs from PTI

‘Kashmiri freedom struggle’ can’t be equated to terrorism: Nawaz Sharif continues to needle India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Struggle of Kashmiris cannot be equNeedling India over Kashmir issue, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said India will be “mistaken” if it equates the “freedom struggle” of Kashmiri people with terrorism.”India is mistaken if it considers that a freedom fight can be equated with terrorism,” Sharif said during a meeting of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s central working party .Sharif said Kashmiris were fighting for their right of self-determination and Pakistan would continue to support them.”Pakistan is committed to the Kashmir cause. No power in the world can stop us from supporting the freedom struggle of Kashmiris,” he said. Sharif’s comments came amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan after the September 18 Uri terror attack that prompted India to conduct surgical strike on terror launch pads along the LoC.Sharif in the past week chaired Cabinet meeting, addressed a joint session of the Parliament and attended National Security Committee’s meeting to discuss tensions with India. Today’s meeting came amidst wrangling with his party how to deal Imran Khan’s threat to shut down capital Islamabad on October 30 over alleged corruption by Sharif’s family.Sahrif warned Khan not to cross limits while protesting against the government. “In democracy people can protest but no one can be allowed to cross the limits,” he said. He said some people want to “paralyse” the country through politics of protests but they would not succeed. Sharif also said that economy has been strengthened because of effective policies as government was working to tackle all the challenges including terrorism and energy shortages.

Pakistan army chief Raheel Sharif visits LoC for the first time since surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif visited the Line of Control on Sunday for the first time since the surgical strike conducted by Indian troops across the LoC and expressed satisfaction over operational preparedness of the military.The Pakistan Army said in a statement that Sharif visited the Haji Pir sector and interacted with troops deployed there. He was also given a detailed briefing by the local formation commander on operational preparedness of the units and formation of the troops, the statement added. “The army chief expressed his complete satisfaction over high state of morale, operational preparedness and vigil being maintained by Pakistan Army personnel along the LoC,” the army said.Sharif’s visit comes over a week after Indian army chief General Dalbir Singh visited the Northern and Western Commands to review India’s operational preparedness along the border with Pakistan in the wake of heightened tension between the two countries following the surgical strike at terror camps across the LoC.Indian troops launched the surgical strike on September 29 following the deadly Uri attack on September 18 in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed in the brazen assault launched by four Pakistani terrorists who were also eliminated in the counteroffensive by the army. Pakistan has denied the surgical strike by India but has claimed two of its soldiers were killed in alleged ceasefire violations along the LoC by Indian troops.

Road to peace in war-torn Afghanistan only via Kashmir, Pakistan tells US

Washington: For the first time, Pakistan has linked peace in war-torn Afghanistan to the resolution of the Kashmir issue, saying a solution to both is required for peace and they cannot be “compartmentalised”.

“Road to peace in Kabul lies in Kashmir in the sense that when you talk of peace, you cannot compartmentalise peace, you can’t segregate a section… ok you can have peace in Kabul and let Kashmir burn. That is not going to happen,” Pakistan Prime Minister’s special envoy on Kashmir Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said here.

“So you (US) talk of a comprehensive peace settlement, so let the people of South Asia not be hostage to the hostility of the past. Let them move forward,” said Syed, Chairman of the Pakistan Senate’s Defence and Defence Production Committee said during an interaction at Washington-based think-tank Stimson Centre.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. TV grab

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. TV grab

He is accompanied by Shezra Mansab, a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, as Special Envoys of Pakistan Prime Minister on Kashmir.

“Our core issue, this time, is Kashmir and no peace can prevail in the region if this issue is not solved. It is an international dispute. It is not an internal problem. The stakes are very high now, we are nuclear neighbours so we need to have peace on the issue of Kashmir and then rest of the things can be solved,” Mansab said.

She added that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has offered peace talks “without any preconditions” but it has been consistently rejected by India.

“The way to move forward is negotiations. We are ready to talk on any subject. It is India which says that it is willing to talk about only one subject. We are ready to talk on that subject as well as other subjects,” she said.

Referring to the lacklustre response that they received during their visit to Washington DC, Michael Krepon of the Stimson Centre asked as to why the US should interfere in this.

“Why, when it is so hard for the US to my embarrassment to get involved in more helpful way in Syria, why should the US listen to the argument to be more involvement in Kashmir,” Krepon said, adding that the situation in Kashmir is much better than many other conflict-prone areas of the world, including Syria.

The two Pakistani envoys had no clear explanation on it.

“We request the US to intervene because it has leverage with India to allow negotiations to start, to end human rights violations in Kashmir, to make sure that the UN resolutions are implemented,” Syed said.

Pakistan, which has been hosting several million refugees for the past three decades, does not push people to the war zone, he said.

“We are facing the consequences of bad decisions made in London, Brussels or Washington,” he said.

Responding to a question, Syed said Pakistan is willing to “do anything” what India asks for the confidence-building measure so as to start negotiations.

He, however, had no justifiable explanation on India seeking actions against terrorist groups, including Hafeez Saeed. Syed argued that India has not provided enough evidence to take concrete action against the 26/11 mastermind.

“Regarding Jaish-e-Mohammad thing, it takes two to tango. If India is now planning to host separatists from Pakistan who has also been involved in the killing of people. And India is naming the province of Balochistan at the level of the Prime Minister. What would happen if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif starts talking of Khalistan, Nagaland, Tripura, Assam, Sikkim
or the Maoist insurgency… we do not want to do that because that is interference in the internal affairs of a neighboring country. You are changing the rules of the game It becomes tit for tat,” he said.

“We would say give us all the evidence that you have about Masood Azhar,” he said.

“Pakistan’s legal process (on Mumbai attack) is already moving. We are waiting for some evidence, which was not provided by the Indian side. We are moving on that,” Syed said.

Modi will attend SAARC Summit in Islamabad, embrace Nawaz Sharif, say Pak PM’s envoys

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US is playing a “positive role in pushing and prodding India” to lower tension and start dialogue with Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s envoys have said.”We feel that the US has a positive role in pushing and prodding India to lower the temperature and start talking to Pakistan rather than talking at Pakistan,” Special Kashmir Envoy of Sharif, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed told PTI at the conclusion of his five-day trip to the US.”One expression of that was the phone call initiated by Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and there has been a follow up phone call. The purpose of those phone calls was to diffuse tension,” said Sayed, who was here with Shezra Mansab, another Kashmir Envoy.He said Modi is ‘not from the Indian Delhi establishment, where you have unsmiling crusty old men who are always sulking and who are stuck in old cold war mentality, as he is an outsider.”I feel that there would be SAARC Summit in Islamabad. Mr Modi will come there. And he would embrace Mr Nawaz Sharif. I think, Modi would realise that this is the way forward,” Syed added.”Mr Modi has the capacity to spring a surprise. One good thing about him is that he is flexible enough to do U turns. So I expect a good U turn probably in the coming months in our relations and we might see pleasant surprise in relations with South Asia, because Mr Modi and Mr Sharif have a good rappo and I think, Mr Modi is preparing his people for this U turn.”Because he (Modi) realises that two important core interest of India are linked with that. Number one relationship with Pakistan and the Kashmir conflict are the biggest impediment in the rise of India. India wants to rise, they want to be on the high table, Nuclear Suppliers Group, UN Security Council. No, till you have better relationship with Pakistan,” Syed said.Syed warned that a war with Pakistan would push back Indian economy by 10 years, which he said Modi does not want.”He (Modi) cannot afford. This raising of tension would be devastating, debilitating and damaging for India. We do not want to respond to war rhetoric (coming from India) by war rhetoric. We are not responding to India in its tone. We still want peace,” Mansab said.”I think, we have stirred up Washington. I think that was the purpose that look here it is a popular, indigenous and widespread uprising (in Kashmir). Pakistan has nothing to do with it. India is trying to put the pressure and raise the temperature which is detrimental to the peace, security and stability in South Asia, because it is a nuclear flash point.We do not want that. No red line should be crossed. “Thirdly we said peace cannot be compartmentalised. Peace is indivisible Kashmir or whether it is Kabul. I think at the end of the day, message has been heard loud and clear,” Syed said, adding that they discern a change in the tone of the US administration.They have a recognition that Pakistan has legitimate grievances on issues like the Indus Water Treaty or some of the irresponsible remakes that unfortunately emanated regarding the issue of Balochistan and Gilgistan, he said.Yesterday, the two Envoys met Peter Lavoy, Special Assistant to US President Barack Obama. The White House refused to issue any readout of the meeting.Syed described their five-day Washington stay as “media, diplomatic and a public relations blitz” during which they had 12 major public events from think-tanks, to government officials, media and interaction with the Kashmiri diaspora.Pakistan-US relationship, he said are in transition.”We feel that the Obama administration failed to figure out our region. They were quite clueless about Pakistan policy, Afghanistan policy. They are confused also.”The US needs Pakistan for stability in the region, for counter-terrorism, for nuclear non-proliferation and for regional economic cooperation, in what we call greater South Asia,” Syed, a former journalist, said.He said the new US administration would be different from that of the Obama administration, “which hopefully would be more balanced, strategic, sustained and consistent policy”.The two Envoys have submitted a dossier on alleged human rights violations in Kashmir.”We have been assured by the United States administration that dossier would find resonance on the upcoming report on human rights on India,” Syed said, adding that the US has assured Pakistan that it would push and prod Modi on Kashmir.”We are waiting for a U turn from Modi on that. I think the U turn would be a positive U turn. The first signs of that would be moving towards normalisation of relationship and reducing tension between the two countries,” Syed added.

US says does not support declaring Pak a ‘terrorist state’; calls for ‘meaningful dialogue’ between Indo-Pak

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US on Friday said meaningful dialogue” between India and Pakistan but will continue to work with the governments in the region to eliminate safe havens which also pose a threat to India.The US also called for a “meaningful dialogue” between India and Pakistan to address differences including the Kashmir issue and to bring down the recent tensions.State Department spokesperson John Kirby, however, expressed confidence that Pakistan has kept nuclear arsenals safe from terrorists.Asked if the government would support a bill in the Congress and an online petition that the US should declare Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’, Kirby at his daily press briefing said: “I have not seen anything specifically about the such a bill, and obviously we don’t.”He, however, said he would not comment on “whatever pending legislation may be coming in that regard”. “What we what I would say is common threat, common challenge in the region, and we’re going to continue to work with Pakistan, with Afghanistan, and the Secretary (of State) just came back from Brussels and the Afghanistan conference in Brussels. And obviously it’s a threat to the Indian people as well.
ALSO READ Sharif’s envoys say Pakistan not isolated; acknowledges remnants’ of terrorists inside the country”So we’re going to continue to work with the governments in the region to try to address these common threats and challenges, and we’ve always said that more can be done about the safe havens and that’s we’re going to, again, try to work as cooperatively as we can to that end,” Kirby said.He said the US’ position on Kashmir has not changed and it is for India and Pakistan to address the problem.
ALSO READ With 613,830 signatures, White House petition seeking to declare Pak ‘terror sponsor’ creates record”On the Kashmir issue, our position has not changed. We want this to be worked out between both sides, the issue of Kashmir. And generally, we obviously want to see the tensions that exist right now be brought down and for dialogue to take its place meaningful dialogue to try to address these issues bilaterally between the countries,” Kirby said.He added that the US wanted India and Pakistan to resolve their differences.
ALSO READ ‘Act against militants or face global isolation’: Pak govt warns its army after surgical strike”There are still differences of opinion that exist between them; and as I said earlier, we want them to work through those differences. We have differences with many countries too, and we continue to try to work through them,” Kirby said.”That’s all we’re asking, that’s all we’re hoping, that’s all we’re expecting from leaders in India and Pakistan. But we don’t believe for a minute that they don’t take the challenges before them seriously or the lives and security of their children,” he said.Kirby also said the US had full confidence in Pakistan’s nuclear security.”I think we’ve said before we’re confident that Pakistan has the security controls they need to have in place on their arsenal,” he said.

Pakistan’s Kashmir propaganda team gets public smackdown in Washington

Pakistan’s Kashmir propaganda team gets public smackdown in Washington

Updated: Oct 7, 2016 03:51 IST

#Kashmir #Pakistan #Uri #USelections


Taking a leaf out of the Donald Trump playbook, the Pakistanis have flown down their talkathon specialists on Kashmir straight into Washington DC to unleash some bluster during Obama’s last months in the White House and they got a public dressing down straightaway.

The smackdown came via Senge Sering, Director of the Gilgit-Baltistan National Congress: “You occupy one-third of Kashmir (in Pakistan), and an occupier cannot be a friend of Kashmir on the other side (in India). You have been exploiting resources in Gilgit-Baltistan, without paying royalty or compensation, a single penny for the last 70 years, I call you a thief in Gilgit-Baltistan and a thief in Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be a friend in Jammu and Kashmir,” Sering tore into the visiting Pak team.

This is even as Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif accused his military chiefs of leading the country into diplomatic isolation by failing to act against Islamist terror groups.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Nawaz Sharif’s special envoy on Kashmir Pakistan senator Mushahid Hussain Syed and Pakistan member of Parliament from Nankana Sahib Dr. Shezra Mansab Khan spoke at an almost 2 hour long session on Kashmir at an Atlantic Council event moderated by Dr Bharath Gopalaswamy.

Both the talking heads kept hammering away that Kashmir is a disputed issue, any talks with India must put Kashmir first, that Kashmiris need “azaadi” and that the Indian army’s pellet guns have hurt hundreds of innocents and sidestepped the question of how terrorists like Hafiz Saeed roam the streets of Pakistan. Timing their visit to coincide with the American preoccupation with US Elections, the Pakistan team said Obama got the Pakistan policy all wrong and offered lessons to India’s prime minister Modi from across the Atlantic.

“When you talk of peace in Kabul, you have to ensure that Kashmir is not burning,” Syed said threatening that Pakistan will not allow Kabul to remain peaceful if the US did not intervene in Kashmir.

The embedded video covers about 50 minutes of the talk.

India to review Most Favoured Nation status given to Pakistan: Vikas Swarup

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Thursday said it will review the Most Favoured Nation status granted to Pakistan by it based on the security and trade interests, asserting that terror cannot be the commodity exported. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said that the speech by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hailing Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani in Parliament shows Pakistan’s complicity in terrorism directed against India and was “self implicating”. Sharif had hailed Wani as “son of the Kashmiri soil” while addressing the joint session on Wednesday.”Promoting shared prosperity with neighbours has been government’s priority but terror cannot be the commodity exported. We will undertake a review based on our security and trade interests,” he said when asked if India will review the MFN status given to Pakistan by India, unilaterally.Asked about the recent conversation between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan, he said the Prime Ministers of the two countries had in January agreed that their NSAs will remain in touch and the details should not be made public. “India remains committed not to make it public.”Earlier this week, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying by Pakistani media that India has agreed to reduce tensions after their NSAs spoke over phone. This was first such contact after the Uri attack and India’s retaliatory surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC.Swarup also refused to react to the reports in Pakistani media that Sharif has asked the powerful military not to shield banned militant groups and directed authorities to conclude the Pathankot terror attack probe and the 2008 Mumbai attack trials.On the reports that Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), a umbrella group of jihadi and Islamist outfits as Hafiz Saeed’s JeM, organising a rally in Pakistan on October 28, he said India has always voiced its concerns at the freedom available to such internationally designated terrorists in Pakistan to conduct and promote anti India activities openly.”It is up to the government of Pakistan to abide by its assurances that it will deny the use of its territory for such purposes,” he added. Swarup also described as “inflection point” the recent cancelling of SAARC Summit after several countries of the eight-nation grouping pulled out over the cross-border terrorism as till now some were only doing “lip-service” and not doing anything concrete. Asserting that Indian forces have carried out 20 successful interdictions along the LoC to foil infiltration attempts, Swarup said captured terrorists have confessed that a large number of terrorists are trained and ready to be launched in terrorists camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He added that since July 8, close to a dozen major terrorist attacks have taken place in J&K, supported and launched from across LOC or border, including today in Handwara.”I would also remind you of what DGMO said on September 29 that it is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquillity in the region, but we can certainly not allow the terrorists to operate across the Line of Control with impunity and attack the citizens of our country,” he added.The Spokesperson also asserted that India has clearly conveyed to Pakistan High Commissioner to India when he was summoned after Uri attack that the government expects Pakistan to fulfill its assurances of 2004, reiterated at highest levels, not to allow territory under its control for terrorism against any country.

India to review most favoured nation status granted to Pakistan: Vikas Swarup

New Delhi: India on Thursday said it will review the Most Favoured Nation status granted to Pakistan by it based on the security and trade interests, asserting that terror cannot be the commodity exported. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said that the speech by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hailing Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani in Parliament shows Pakistan’s complicity in terrorism directed against India and was “self implicating”. Sharif had hailed Wani as “son of the Kashmiri soil” while addressing the joint session on Wednesday.

File image of MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup. CNN-News18

File image of MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup. CNN-News18

“Promoting shared prosperity with neighbours has been government’s priority but terror cannot be the commodity exported. We will undertake a review based on our security and trade interests,” he said when asked if India will review the MFN status given to Pakistan by India, unilaterally.

Asked about the recent conversation between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan, he said the Prime Ministers of the two countries had in January agreed that their NSAs will remain in touch and the details should not be made public. “India remains committed not to make it public.” Earlier this week, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying by Pakistani media that India has agreed to reduce tensions after their NSAs spoke over phone.

This was first such contact after the Uri attack and India’s retaliatory surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC. Swarup also refused to react to the reports in Pakistani media that Sharif has asked the powerful military not to shield banned militant groups and directed authorities to conclude the Pathankot terror attack probe and the 2008 Mumbai attack trials.

On the reports that Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), an umbrella group of jihadi and Islamist outfits as Hafiz Saeed’s JeM, organising a rally in Pakistan on 28 October, he said India has always voiced its concerns at the freedom available to such internationally designated terrorists in Pakistan to conduct and promote anti India activities openly. “It is up to the government of Pakistan to abide by its assurances that it will deny the use of its territory for such purposes,” he added.

After Nawaz Sharif’s warning, Pak Army chief Raheel Shareef hits out at India’s ‘litany of falsehoods’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing international isolation, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in an unprecedented move has warned the powerful military not to shield banned militant groups and directed authorities to conclude the Pathankot terror attack probe and the 2008 Mumbai attack trials, a leading Pakistani daily reported . Sharif’s orders came after a series of meetings between military and civilian leaders, Dawn newspaper said.The government delivered a “blunt, orchestrated and unprecedented warning” to the military leadership and sought consensus on several key actions, including action against banned militant groups, the paper quoted unnamed individuals, who were involved in the meetings. At least two sets of actions have been agreed as a result of the most recent meeting, an undisclosed one on the day of the All Parties’ Conference, which took place on Monday. ISI Director General Rizwan Akhtar, accompanied by National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua, will travel to all provinces with a message that military-led intelligence agencies should not interfere if law enforcement agencies act against militant groups that are banned.Sharif directed that fresh attempts be made to conclude the Pathankot investigation and restart the stalled Mumbai attacks-related trials in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court. Those decisions, taken after an extraordinary verbal confrontation between Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the ISI DG, appear to indicate a high-stakes new approach by the PML-N government, the paper said. Separately, on Monday Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry made an exclusive presentation in the Prime Minister’s Office to a small group of civil and military officials. The presentation by the Foreign Secretary summarised the results of the recent diplomatic outreach by Pakistan, the crux being that Pakistan faces diplomatic isolation and that the government’s talking points have been met with indifference in major world capitals, the paper said.On the US, Chaudhry said that relations have deteriorated and will likely further deteriorate because of the American demand that action be taken against the Haqqani network. On India, Chaudhry said that the completion of the Pathankot investigation and some visible action against Jaish-i-Mohammad, which India says was behind the January 2 attack, were the principal demands. Chaudhry said while China has reiterated its support for Pakistan, it too has indicated a preference for a change in course by Pakistan. Specifically, while Chinese authorities have conveyed their willingness to keep putting on technical hold a UN ban on Jaish-i-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar, they have questioned the logic of doing so repeatedly, the report said. The Foreign Secretary’s unexpectedly blunt conclusions triggered an astonishing and potentially ground-shifting exchange between the ISI DG and several civilian officials, it said.Raheel Sharif blames India Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif accused India of spreading a “litany of falsehoods” and warned that any aggression or a “strategic miscalculation” against his country will not go unpunished. “We have recently witnessed an unfortunate display of utter desperation” playing out inside Kashmir and along Line of Control through a “litany of falsehoods and distortion of facts by India”, Raheel said while addressing the passing out ceremony of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) cadets in Risalpur, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. “We expect international community to condemn Indian insinuations and fabrications about a nation that has made unparalleled contributions in the global fight against terrorism,” he said. Raheel’s comments assume significance as they come amidst the strain in Indo-Pak ties after the Uri terror attack and India’s surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir. Pakistan claims no surgical strikes have taken place.”Any aggression, born out of deliberate intent or even a strategic miscalculation, will not be allowed to go unpunished and will be met with the most befitting response,” Raheel said.”We will be highly relentless in defending our motherland against entire spectrum of threat. I am confident that with the united resolve of our nation and its armed forces, those inimical to regional peace will not be allowed to succeed.Their evil plots and plans will be defeated,” he said. Raheel claimed that “enemies” of Pakistan’s peace and prosperity have been distressed by the sight of the country’s “successes”. “These enemies will now attempt to accelerate their efforts to reverse our gains and derail our progress through direct and indirect strategy,” he asserted. Raheel said Pakistan is a “responsible” country and claimed that it remains committed to following the policy of friendship with all other countries based on the principles of equality and mutual respect. “While doing so, the armed forces of Pakistan remain fully prepared to give the most befitting response to any kind of internal and external threat posed to our nation,” he said. “Their (enemies’) nefarious designs will not be allowed to succeed at any cost. Resolute efforts to consolidate our gains is the only way forward for which we will not leave any stone unturned,” Raheel said. He claimed that Pakistan was making efforts to eliminate militancy. “Internally, Operation Zarb-e-Azb had successfully turned the tide against terrorism. We are engaged in eliminating the terrorism infrastructure from our soil and foil nefarious designs of our enemies,” he said.

Indian Army’s surgical strikes: How Modi government began well and then lost the plot

In the wee hours of 29 September, the Indian army conducted a ‘surgical strike’ on terror launch pads ‘along’ the LoC, announced DGMO Ranbir Singh, reading out from a prepared statement at a presser. He was accompanied by Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup. This operation was in response to the terrorist strikes on Indian soil, including the ones in Poonch and Uri on 11 and 18 of September respectively, Singh said.

The DGMO’s announcement triggered a euphoric phase among Indians who were desperately seeking vengeance for the killings of jawans and wanting a clear message sent to Pakistan. Everyone — the Opposition parties, bureaucrats, industry and the aam aadmi — lauded the Narendra Modi government’s political will. Every Indian felt exalted by the reinvigorated feeling of patriotism that united everyone against our one sure common threat: Pakistan.

At the presser, the DGMO said the action was limited to militant camps and not Pakistani Army outposts, adding that India doesn’t plan any more such attacks unless provoked. This was said with the idea of not escalating the tension between India and Pakistan and also to offer a face-saver to Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistani Army.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Jingoism all around

But, what followed were days of jingoism and chest-thumping. BJP leaders across the country celebrated as if the Modi government had just won a full-fledged war over Pakistan. They narrated stories of how Modi’s unprecedented determination and political will made something finally possible that was seemingly unthinkable in the past. Social media patriots worked overnight from their living rooms to escalate a cyber war with their Pakistani counterparts.

The magnitude of hype and hoopla over the “surgical strikes” was such that some BJP leaders even projected this — a matter of national security — as the party’s trump card for the state elections. Posters put up by the BJP and its on-off ally Shiv Sena in UP and Punjab after the army’s surgical strikes portrayed Modi as Lord Ram, aiming his weapon at Nawaz Sharif, Raavan. The soldier who actually fought this fight couldn’t find a place on the poster though.

Then there was a comment from Defence Minister Manohar Parikar. “Indian troops were like Hanuman who did not quite know their prowess before the surgical strikes,” Parrikar said.
What was supposed to be an important covert military operation suddenly found itself morphed into a political tool. What worsened the situation was the excessive jingoism on TV news channels. Some TV anchors appeared to wage a war across the LoC from their air-conditioned studios.

Often, they appointed themselves as new age icons of patriotic, nationalistic ideals. The media — that should be a dispassionate observer — started increasingly using words like ‘martyred’ instead of ‘killed’ for soldiers in its reports and often constructed ‘stories’ that weren’t true to the facts. The excessive jingoism turned into rather imaginative — rather than fact-based — reporting. Thus, we saw tweets and reports about how over “50 Pakistanis were killed during the surgical strikes across LoC” and how “two terrorists” were ‘neutralised’ at Baramulla even as the soldiers shooting into the darkness themselves didn’t have a clue about what was happening on the ground.

There was no official confirmation for any of these killings that supposedly took place during the media surgical operations. But it is always easy to pull out a ticker flashing at the bottom of a TV screen or to delete a tweet. Various arms of the media also vied with each other to take the army’s Special Forces as far as they possibly could — from just across the LoC to two or three kilometres into PoK. A combination of jingoism and poorly-sourced reports followed.

But the result of all this high drama and political over-hype on a subject of national security took matters to such an extent that the army operation became the subject of unwarranted scrutiny. The fact that the DGMO presser and subsequent comments from the government offered no details of the surgical operation to media provided fodder to speculation. One cannot rule out selective leaks of information from army or government sources to the media, but most of these were self-contradictory.

Things changed dramatically since then.

The aam aadmi on the street and in front of TV screens didn’t know where these details emerged from. This changed the initial euphoria among the aam aadmi about the surgical strike to a state of confusion and, later, doubt. Modi-haters on social media soon jumped into action on the theory that the surgical strikes were yet another case of ‘Modi jhumla‘. When the TV channels too ran out of ‘patriotic’ angles, they shifted the core focus to the truth of the claim — whether the surgical strikes took place or not. The idea was to keep the viewer glued to the TV screen somehow. Even as the army maintained its dignified silence, the season of denials and counter-claims over what was originally a matter of national security, kicked off in its political courts and TV shows.

How the government lost the plot

By letting the DGMO announce the military’s surgical strike and totally staying away from the scene, the Modi government started the Uri payback episode on a strong note with calculated moves. The political decision to use the army only to strike at specific ‘terror launch pads’ without inflicting damage to the Pakistani military establishment, communicating the details of the strike in an official capacity to the Pakistani Army and giving a clear message that India isn’t a war-hungry nation, but wouldn’t tolerate acts of terror on its soil, sent out strong signals to the world that India is a responsible democracy and a strong state.

Will it be an exaggeration to say that from a heroic act by the Indian Army, the ‘surgical’ strikes’ suddenly became the butt of jokes for social media warriors and political blame-gamers?

But the government lost the plot subsequently in two stages:

First, when it absolutely failed to keep a check on the vague — often contradictory — information going out in the media from ‘sources’ and through possible selective leaks. When jingoistic folks started coming up with a new narrative every other day on behalf of the army, the Modi government found itself caught in a dilemma. It didn’t know how to handle the situation. There were two sides to this problem of multiple narratives and later, denials. The political repercussions soon forced the aam aadmi to do a rethink on the whole mission who was initially euphoric about Modi’s ‘Uri revenge’.  Next, the world too began to murmur about the exact nature of India’s surgical strikes, although it was not put on public domain citing strategic concerns.

The second stage came when the government failed to face the questions on surgical strikes from politicians with maturity and tactics and, instead, let its ministers attack the questioners with aggression and bitterness. As noted in an earlier article, when the likes of Sanjay Nirupam, Arvind Kejriwal and former Congress minister P Chidambaram raised questions on the veracity of the surgical strikes, the government and the BJP political leadership failed to face those with balance (or even to simply ignore them), instead resorting to jingoism using hyperbole. Take a look at Union minister Uma Bharti‘s response to this:

Those leaders who say that if Pakistan is demanding evidence about the surgical strike, they should be given the evidence; such people should take the citizenship of Pakistan,” Bharti told reporters in Pune.

Here was where they made a mistake: When the Pakistani Army went into denial mode from the first day on India’s claims of surgical strikes, it was an expected reaction. That’s because everyone knows what Pakistan is. But that wasn’t the case when questions were raised in a democracy with a multipolar political setup. The questions were not on whether the strikes took place, but on the political narrative that followed. The entire operation was portrayed by BJP leaders as the first-of-its-kind in the Indian Army’s history, while former generals and a former home minister said that wasn’t the case.

When the media jumped in to follow-up comments from the Kejriwals and Nirupams, their questions undoubtedly gained more legitimacy. The crux of the discussions suddenly changed to “Did the surgical attacks take place?” from “How India smartly responded to Uri” or “What should be done with Pakistan next?”. The growing group of naysayers forced the army to finally share the video of the surgical strikes with the government, something it needn’t have done.

Will it be an exaggeration to say that from a heroic act by the Indian Army, the ‘surgical’ strikes’ suddenly became the butt of jokes for social media warriors and political blame-gamers? Clearly, the government shouldn’t have let the situation degrade to this level and should have dealt with its own ministers on chest-thumping as well as naysayers more carefully by explaining what it can reveal on the operations and what it cannot for reasons of national security.

Modi entered the scene quite late when he warned leaders in his party leaders not to thump their chests so loudly over the surgical attacks.

But it was too late by then.

The damage was already done.

Pakistan: Condemn ‘distortion of facts’ by India, Raheel Sharif urges world

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan’s army chief, General Raheel Sharif on Thursday urged the world community to condemn the ‘distortion of facts’ by India regarding Kashmir and the Line of Control (LoC).Addressing a passing out parade of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) cadets, General Sharif said, “We have recently witnessed an unfortunate display of utter desperation playing out inside occupied Kashmir and along the Line of Control through a litany of falsehood and distortion of facts by India.””We expect the international community to condemn Indian insinuations and fabrications about a nation that has made unparalleled contributions to the global fight against terrorism,? the Dawn quoted him, as saying.Insisting that the armed forces were fully prepared to give the “most befitting response” to any internal or external threats directed at the country, General Sharif said Pakistan is a responsible country and remains committed to the policy of friendship with all other countries based on equality and mutual respect.He added that any aggression born out of deliberate intent or even a strategic miscalculation would not be allowed to go unpunished.The army chief’s comments come as relations between India and Pakistan has plunged to a new low in recent times in the wake of Uri terror attack and the subsequent surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army along the LoC.

Pak epicentre of terrorism but makes baseless claims about Kashmir: Syed Akbaruddin at UN

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN again hit out at Pakistan over their Kashmir claims. He said: “We look away (on the issue of dealing with terrorism) as some amongst us stall our collective efforts, as they use terrorists as proxies in their territorial quests. We have heard one such lone voice a short while ago, making claims to an integral part of India. A country which has established itself as a global epicenter of terrorism. Such claims find no resonance amongst the international community.”Referring to Sharif’s speech at UNGA, he said “Just less than 10 days ago the GA Debate witnessed a singular lack of support for Pakistan’s baseless claims. Need one say more. Abandon your futile quest. Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will remain so. No amount of misuse of international fora by Pakistan will change that reality. The sell by date of Pakistan’s anachronistic approach is over.”Pak snub at UNThe UN Security Council has not been discussing the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan, Russia’s envoy to the UN and Council president for October said, in a clear snub to Pakistan which had raised the Kashmir issue and surgical strike by India in the world body.”I don’t want to go there, don’t want to go there. No no please, I don’t want to go there,” Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said as he quickly interrupted a question on India and Pakistan tensions during a press briefing. Churkin was addressing the media as Russia assumed the Presidency of the 15-nation Council for the month of October.When asked why he would not comment on the issue, Churkin said “because I am President of the Security Council. The Security Council has not been discussing it (the India Pakistan situation). “Sorry sir, I don’t want to go there. No comment, no comment, sorry please,” Churkin said.When asked again why he and Russia were “so reluctant” to discuss the India-Pakistan situation, Churkin said, “I’m sure you know. There are so many other things.” Churkin’s remarks come as a clear snub to Pakistan, which had approached the Security Council just last week on the surgical strikes conducted by India to target terror launch pads across the Line of Control as well as on the Kashmir issue.Earlier in the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq was asked what the UN position is on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj s remarks in her address to the UN General Assembly that Pakistan should “abandon” its Kashmir dream since Kashmir is and will remain an integral part of India.”We have issued a statement on the situation between India and Pakistan. I would refer you back to that,” Haq said.When asked again why the UN did not “say anything” to Swaraj’s remarks that Pakistan should stop dreaming about Kashmir, Haq said, “We don’t comment on every speech made in the General Assembly, but we have been commenting on the situation on Kashmir, and like I said, we issued a statement on that just last Friday.”Pakistan s envoy to the UN Maleeha Lodhi had met New Zealand’s UN Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, president of the Council for the month of September, and had raised the issue of the surgical strikes in “informal consultations” of the Council.She had also met UN Secretary General Ban on the issue but the UN Chief had called on the governments of India and Pakistan to address their outstanding issues, including Kashmir, peacefully through “diplomacy and dialogue”.India s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin had last week said that Pakistan approaching the UN Chief and the Security Council over the surgical strikes in PoK has not found any resonance at the world body.Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif too had tried to internationalise the Kashmir issue, raising it with almost every world leader he held bilateral talks with on the sidelines of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly last month.

Surgical strikes: CNN-News18 gets truth from a Pakistani cop, will skeptics doubt again?

Enough aspersions have been cast by the skeptics and particularly by political parties like Congress and Aam Aadmi Party clamouring for proof of the 29 September Indian Special Forces surgical strike across Line of Control. Those in the flock are AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal besides Congressmen like P Chidambaram, Sanjay Nirupam and other senior leaders should now relax and believe in every bit of the official announcement made by the DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal. PTIAAP chief Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

CNN-News18 has nailed the lie of the Pakistani establishment that no surgical strike took place and it was only “routine” firing along the LoC. What is even more important that Pakistan’s falsehood had been exposed by none other than one of their own officers in uniform — Superintendent of Police (Special Branch) of the Mirpur Range in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

It was the SP’s job to prepare a report as to what had happened in the area on 29 September as it falls under his jurisdiction. He couldn’t be more candid for he thought that he was speaking to his superior in his own force and gave out all the conclusive proof that anyone would have ever asked for.

The CNN-News18 exclusive expose was televised minutes after Nawaz Sharif finished delivering his speech from a prepared text, almost in the same manner and fashion as he had done at the UN General Assembly in New York. The only notable difference being that this time around it was in Urdu and the rants against India were a bit shriller. What was interesting that Sharif was parroting the same old denial line of their army that only two of their soldiers were “martyred” in firing at the LoC. The Pakistani PM had no inkling that minutes later one of his own senior officer from the area where Indian forces conducted surgical strikes causing “significant casualties” would be heard all across the world saying that at least five soldiers were killed and that the bodies of unknown number of terrorists were quickly removed by the Pakistani military.

The Mirpur SP also says that immediately after the surgical strike Pakistani army has cordoned off all these areas. That was clearly done to put a blinder on fatal setback Pakistani army had suffered and as such get in an instant denial mode — “nothing happened… “kids playing there”.

The SP gave out that Pakistani army put the dead bodies in ambulances, around dozen coffins were brought to take bodies to their respective villages for burial. “There were attacks on separate places… several places were attacked… they also met resistance…. Sir, that was night… you can say roughly 3-4 hours… between 2 am and 4 or 5am… the attack continued between that time,” he told CNN-News18.

The timing is same as was told by sources in India. It is also broadly the same as was put out by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) put out in its initial statement. The ISPR statement had said: “Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing on loc in Bhimber, hotspring, kel, and Lipa sectors. Exchange of fire which started at 0230 hrs after midnight continued till 0800 hrs. Two soldiers were martyred.”

What is most damning for Pakistan is that their officer has confirmed what India had been saying all along that terrorism is part of official state policy of Pakistan and its army is the principal exporter of terror. He said the Pakistani Army facilitates jihadi movement in forward areas and arranges for their crossing over to India: “The Army brings them, sir… it is in their hands.”

Nothing could be more conclusive than this. It should be enough to the likes of Kejriwal, Nirupam, Surjewala, and end number of other skeptics in politics and in other walks of life. It should also come as an eye opener to the big foreign media brands who enjoyed Pakistani hospitality on a bus trip to PoK to report parroted Pakistani line of general quiet.

India never needed to give a proof of the attack. Those asking questions in the domestic political arena would never be satisfied, as has happened in so many cases in the past. They could also seek forensic tests of the proof, if a video footage or picture was released, send them to their own preferred labs and come to their own conclusions.

They have not believed words of DGMO Indian Army and MEA, spoken after CCS meet chaired by the Prime Minister. In a democracy, one is free to disbelieve its own government. But they would now be forced to believe Pakistani officer’s words.

As for Pakistan, no proof is ever good enough — be it Parliament attack, serial blasts in Mumbai suburban trains, Mumbai terror attack, Pathankot, Uri and so on. It’s a waste of time and energy at the highest level to give them proof. It will never accept any proof and keep on asking for more. Even today Nawaz Sharif in his speech in Pakistan national assembly criticised India for naming Pakistan within six hours of the attack. He was trying to convince his domestic audience that India had done that to derail his agenda in UNGA.

Prime Modi in his speech at Kozhikode had blasted Sharif for reading from a text prepared by terrorists. Today he was reading again.

The CNN-News18 revelation proves that Sharif first reaction after surgical strike “condemning unprovoked and naked aggression of Indian forces along the Line of Control” was sincere one.

That was initial acceptance of reality, of the surgical strike by India. Sharif, his government, and his army’s subsequent falsehood would continue to hurt him in days to come.

Sharif’s Burhan Wani statement shows Pak’s ‘continued attachment to terrorists’: India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yet again showering praise on killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, India on Wednesday said the former’s statement reflects Islamabad’s ‘continued attachment to terrorism’. Disapproving Sharif’s remark, government sources put forth New Delhi’s views in this regard. Sharif earlier in the day accused India of stalling the dialogue process and urged world powers to ensure that UN resolutions on Kashmir are implemented. Addressing a joint session of Parliament on ‘Kashmir issue’ in Islamabad, Sharif said, “The death of Burhan Wani, son of the Kashmiri soil, had reminded India to give Kashmiris their right to self-determination.’Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech last month challenging Pakistan to a contest over eradicating poverty and other social ills, Sharif said, “If they (Indian leaders) want us to fight them to end poverty, then they should realise that poverty cannot be eradicated by driving tanks on farmlands.” Addressing the nation at the backdrop of a three-day BJP conclave held in Kozhikode last month, Prime Minister Modi slammed Pakistan for exporting terrorism across the world and said, ‘While India exports software, Pakistan exports terrorism across the world.’ ‘Your (Pakistani) rulers speak of fighting India for a thousand years. Today, there is such a government in Delhi that I am ready to accept your challenge… Pakistan’s ‘awam’ (people), I want to say to you, India is ready to fight you,’ Prime Minister Modi had said.‘Come, if you have the courage, let’s fight poverty…unemployment’illiteracy. Let us fight and see who is able to end poverty first,’ he added.Prime Minister Sharif today said, ‘We have done everything to make India come to the dialogue table, but India did not let it happen. Our efforts were thwarted over and over again.’ He also accused India of running away from dialogue and instead creating a war-like environment by blaming Pakistan for the Uri terror attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed last month.”We have done everything to make India come to the dialogue table, but India did not let it happen. Our efforts were thwarted over and over again,” Sharif claimed. “Without any investigation (into Uri incident), within a few hours, India blamed Pakistan for the attack,” he said. Sharif accused India of having some “motives” in blaming Pakistan for the Uri attack when it was “not even established” that who was involved in it. The Pakistan Prime Minister also expressed support for Kashmiris and said the issue should be resolved according to the wishes of people of Kashmir and the UN resolutions.Raking up the Kashmir issue at the United Nations General Assembly last month, Sharif had called Wani a “young leader”, evoking a strong reaction from India. The Hizbul Mujahideen commander was killed in an encounter with the Indian security forces on July 8, sparking off protests in the valley.

Nawaz Sharif’s comments on Burhan Wani shows Pakistan’s attachment to terrorism: India

Nawaz Sharif’s comments on Burhan Wani shows Pakistan’s attachment to terrorism: India


New Delhi: India on Wednesday said Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s comments describing Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani, whose encounter killing by security forces triggered the current unrest in the Valley, as “son of the Kashmiri soil” shows that country’s attachment to terrorism.

File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

“The speech by Sharif at the joint session of Parliament shows Pakistan’s continued attachment to terrorism,” senior government sources said. Their remarks came after Sharif, while addressing a joint session of Parliament convened to discuss the security situation in the wake of increasing Indo-Pak tensions, accused India of running away from dialogue and instead creating a war-like environment by blaming Pakistan for the Uri terror attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed last month.

Sharif expressed support for Kashmiris and said the issue should be resolved according to the wishes of people of Kashmir and the UN resolutions. “The Kashmiri youth have taken it upon themselves to carry on the movement of freedom against Indian aggression and atrocities…The death of Burhan Wani, son of the Kashmiri soil, had reminded India to give Kashmiris their right to self-determination,” Sharif said.

Surgical strikes: Why India did not release video evidence of cross-border operation

Right from the word go, the Pakistani army establishment was more keen to deny “surgical strikes” than accepting it as a reality. That was the precise reason why Pakistani army is learnt to have used its communication channel pleading India to play down the magnitude of the strike.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

And there were enough reasons for it. At first glance, the imagery of a “vulnerable Pakistani army” was too much of a cost to bear. Over the years, people of Pakistan are fed with myths about its army’s larger-than-life image. Among all institutions in Pakistan, the army is build up an image of being inviolable.

The surgical strikes had not only broken this myth to smithereens but also exposed gaping chinks in Pakistan’s armour. With Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif set to retire shortly, the Pakistan’s deep state was the first time running for a cover. India’s surgical strikes across the line of control (LoC) proved to be a moment of reckoning for the Pakistani army which found itself under siege.

What appeared to have complicated the matter for Pakistan is the decision of the Indian government to inform Pakistan by using the communication line of director generals of military operation (DGMOs) of both the countries. When the Indian DGMO informed his Pakistani counterpart about the nature of the operations, it rang the alarm bells in Pakistan.

However after assuring the limited nature of the “surgical strikes”, Indian side maintained that there was no move to escalate it any further. A close scrutiny of the Indian DGMO’s press conference in the morning and his decision not to entertain any question on the issue was calculated to give Pakistani army a space for maneuvering.

Highly-placed sources in the government said that the script, however, went haywire as Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reacted to surgical strikes and called Indian’s move as “naked aggression”. Since Sharif was briefed about India’s military action, he could not get time to hide his outrage. However, the army leadership soon intervened and started denying surgical strikes. Of course, India found Pakistan’s denial as not unusual.

However, at the same time, top leadership in the government, defence forces and agencies dealing with the internal security were put on the highest level of alert as there were inputs about Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) staging something spectacular to get even with surgical strikes. The foiled attack at the Baramulla army camp was an indication of Pakistan’s design.

As of now, the government is in no mood to lower the guard. Given the fact that India is going to host the 2016 BRICS Summit on 15-16 October in Panaji and holding various events all across the country, officials of the home ministry and defence ministry have been asked to maintain maximum vigilance to thwart any attempt of retaliation either by Pakistan directly or through proxies across the country.

Also Read: Modi lost faith in Sharif long before Uri attack: What was the tipping point?

Pakistan’s quest for peace must not be mistaken as a sign of weakness: Nawaz Sharif

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that it cannot be cowed down by “hollow rhetoric” and “aggressive posturing”, Pakistan today said its armed forces are fully capable of thwarting any threat to its sovereignty and territorial integrity, amid escalating tensions with India after the Uri terror attack.During the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting attended by top defence officials including army chief General Raheel Sharif, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan’s “quest for peace must not be mistaken as a sign of weakness”. “Internal and external security situation of the country with particular reference to the situation on the Line of Control (LoC) and operational preparedness of the armed forces were reviewed in detail during the meeting,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said here.The leaders expressed “complete satisfaction over operational preparedness” of the armed forces. They resolved that the entire nation stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its armed forces and will ensure defence of the country at any cost. “Pakistan cannot be cowed down with hollow rhetoric and aggressive posturing,” they said during the meeting chaired by Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister’s House. The Prime Minister said that Pakistan “does not cherish aggressive designs against any country” and believes in “peace and collective betterment”.”However, our quest for peace must not be mistaken as a sign of weakness; our armed forces are fully capable of thwarting any kind of threat to our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Sharif added.His remarks came two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India has never attacked any country, nor has it been “hungry for any territory” but made supreme sacrifice fighting for others, referring to the two World Wars.The developments come amid strained ties between New Delhi and Islamabad after the Uri terror attack and India’s retaliatory surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC. The NSC meeting referred to India’s surgical strikes as “recent propaganda and false claims” of attacking terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir across the LoC and said India “should resolve the long-standing issue of Kashmir for enduring peace in the region, instead of such futile efforts of diverting attention of the world”.The leaders also said India must stop “atrocities” in Kashmir and recognise the struggle of Kashmiris for their right of self determination guaranteed by the UNSC resolutions.Calling Pakistan and Kashmir as “inseparable”, Sharif said it is “imperative that the UN and other countries fulfil their longstanding commitment to the Kashmiris” and added that Pakistan will continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiri people at every forum.The leaders also noted that escalation on LoC and eastern borders will “shift Pakistan’s focus away from its efforts to eliminate terrorism from our soil at a critical stage, and is detrimental” to the successes made by the country in war against terror.

India, Pakistan NSAs talk to diffuse tensions between two countries along LoC: Sartaj Aziz

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an attempt to diffuse the escalated tensions between two nations along the Line of Control (LoC) after India’s surgical strike, National Security Advisors (NSA) of India and Pakistan have reportedly had talks, even though Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif warned that Islamabad was also capable of executing surgical strikes.According to The News International, Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that Pakistan’s Nasser Janjua and India’s Ajit Doval spoke to diffuse tensions between the two countries. “Both officials stressed on the need to establish contact to reduce tensions along the Line of Control,” Aziz told the portal.However, Aziz also claimed that India was escalating tensions with Pakistan at the Line of Control to deflect the attention of the world from Kashmir. Aziz said that Pakistan wanted to bring down tensions at the Line of Control so that the focus could be on the issue of occupied Kashmir.Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called a special Cabinet meeting last week to discuss the latest tension with India and the situation on the LoC, a day after Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.In a first, India carried out surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads across the LoC on the intervening night of September 28 and 29, with the Army saying it inflicted “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from PoK, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned Uri attack would not go unpunished.India and Pakistan are witnessing growing bitterness after Pakistan and its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made provocative statements on the Kashmir situation in the wake of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani’s killing on July 8.Recently, raking up Kashmir at the UN, Sharif had glorified slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as a “young leader” even as he expressed readiness for a “serious and sustained ‘dialogue’ with India for peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, especially Jammu and Kashmir.

From Sari-Shawl Diplomacy to Surgical Strikes: The evolution of Modi’s Pakistan policy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One of the most pivotal moments in literature is when Arjun found his inner peacenik and told Krishna that he couldn’t wage war against his brethren. What followed was the Gita, the world’s first and most effective powerpoint presentation as Lord Krishna explained the real nature of the universe to Arjun. When asked which was better, action or ‘renunciation’, Krishna explained that the latter was always better.Arjun’s conundrum, the question between action and inaction, might as well have been Modi’s dilemma since he came to power. Should he act against Pakistan — our version of the Kauravas — or does he give peace a chance? In the end, he learned that action was his dharma, but to reach that phase took time, as he realised the hard way that Pakistani establishment were not doves. Here’s how PM Modi’s Pak policy has evolved over the last two years:First Phase of Modi’s Pak Policy: Sari-Shawl DiplomacyModi and Sharif in Lahore in December 2015 (PTI) After coming to power, in a gesture of goodwill, PM Modi invited Sharif and other SAARC leaders to his swearing-in ceremony. Modi wrote to Mian Sahib that he ‘looked forward to working with him in an atmosphere free from confrontation and violence in order to chart a new course in our bilateral relations’. He also thanked him for the lovely saree he had sent for his mother!This was in June 2014, and that happy phase lasted for a while where the PM seemed to believe that his huge mandate gave him the chance to try out things which his predecessor wouldn’t have dared. In an attempt to thaw relations, Modi met Sharif on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Ufa, Russia in July 2015. India and Pakistan released a joint statement in which they promised to cooperate to tackle terrorism in the region, planned a meeting between the country’s NSAs and both sides promised to help each other with the 26/11 case. The duo also had a ‘courtesy meeting’ in Paris during the Climate Change Summit. The two NSAs – Gen (Retd.) Nasir Khan Janjua and Ajit Doval – had a hush-hush meeting in Bangkok on December 7. The high point of this in-love phase was on December 25, 2015, when Modi made an impromptu stop in Pakistan to meet Nawaz Sharif and greet him on his birthday. The move came completely out of the blue and flummoxed his critics and political watchers.Second Phase of Modi’s Indo-Pak Policy: Trust thy neighbourPM Modi visits the Pathankot terror attack (File Photo) When the Pathankot attack took place on January 2, 2016, as a confident building measure, India invited a special-investigation team from Pakistan to collect data, a move that signed a departure from past refusal to give Pakistani investigators access after terrorist events like 26/11. The move was severely criticised all around and many felt that the Modi government had allowed culprits onto our crime scene. And they were right. Pakistan washed its hands off the attack, claiming that there was no proof that JEM or any Pakistani-supported group was involved, a move that left the government red-faced.Third Phase of Modi’s Pak Policy: SAARC attack Syed Salahuddin and Rajnath Singh (File Photo)Things really started going distinctly downhill after the death of militant leader Burhan Wani (July 8, 2016) in Kashmir as Sharif hailed him as a ‘martyr’. Many believed that Sharif’s volte-face was thanks to nudges from the Pakistan army who had him under pressure after revelations in the Panama papers.At this moment, the sniping remained at a vocal level and India and Pakistan kept hitting back with comments. HM Rajnath Singh, who earned the moniker Ninda Mama (for saying ‘kadi ninda’ after every terrorist attack), even went down for a SAARC conference in Islamabad where he was met by protests from known terrorists like Syed Salahuddin and Hafiz Saeed leading the protests against him. To his credit ,Rajnath did voice a strong rebuke to Pakistan on its own soil.Fourth Phase of Modi’s Pak Policy: Balochistan, Terror Card and Global Isolation Burhan Wani (File Photo)By now, Modi seemed to have heard enough. He launched a counterattack by using the Balochistan argument— one that had left Manmohan Singh red-faced in Sharm-El-Shaikh, Egypt, when he co-signed a statement with his Pakistani counterpart Geelani in July 2009, for practically owning up to India fomenting trouble in Balochistan, leading to sharp attacks from the BJP in Parliament. But PM Modi is from a different era and he used the same Balochistan card to show Pakistan’s hypocrisy when it came to Kashmir. During his address to the nation on Independence Day, PM Modi set the ball rolling when he said: “Pakistan forgets that it bombs its own citizens using fighter planes. The time has come when Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against people in Baluchistan and PoK. We are fully committed to the fundamental rights of the people. Our anti-terror laws are more humane than those of any other democracy in the world. Our governments and our security forces have shown restraint in dealing with these incidents.”That restraint broke after Uri (September 18, 2016), a terrorist attack unlike any in recent memory where 19 jawans were burnt to death in their sleep. With the exception of a few liberal voices who think they speak for the rest of us, the nation wanted Uri avenged. In three speeches, India laid down the smack down on Pakistan on a global level to expose its duplicity on home-based terror outfits, its hypocritical stand on Kashmir and its hand in terror across the globe. Chronologically, the first one was Eenam Gambhir’s reply at UNGA to Sharif’s embarrassing eulogy to Burhan Wani, where Gambhir bestowed upon Pakistan the term ‘Ivy League of terrorism’. This was followed by PM Modi’s speech at the BJP National Meet at Kozhikode where he claimed that Sharif’s speeches were written by terrorists and asked Pakistanis why India exported software while Pakistan was known globally for terror. He also went out of his way to pin the link of global terrorism and its Pakistani origin and played up the Obama Bin Laden connection again. The final speech came from EAM Sushma Swaraj at UNGA who pointed out India’s repeated attempts to improve relations.Delivered in crisp Hindi, she said, “We have in fact attempted a paradigm of friendship in the last two years which is without precedent. We conveyed Eid greetings to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, wished success to his cricket team, extended good wishes for his health and well-being. Did all this come with pre-conditions attached? And what did we get in return? Pathankot, Bahadur Ali, and Uri. Bahadur Ali is a terrorist in our custody, whose confession is a living proof of Pakistan’s complicity in cross-border terror. But when confronted with such evidence, Pakistan remains in denial.”Fifth Phase of Modi’s Pak Policy: Surgical Strike DGMO Ranbir Singh and Vikas Swarup (PTI)And finally came the ‘action’ bit of Modi’s policy, when Arjuna’s proverbial chariot – stuck between the two armies – finally moved forward. A clandestine pre-emptive surgical strike saw the Indian Army take out 7 terror launch pads inflicting ‘significant damages’. While the reaction was celebrated by most Indians who never thought the government would allow the army to act, it left Pakistani establishment shell-shocked. The reactions from the Pak establishment moved from denial to promises of retribution back to denial. Sharif said that Pakistan also knew about ‘surgical strikes’, something echoed by 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, while Army Chief Raheel Sharif said ‘India’s misadventure wouldn’t go unanswered’.On another note, as Pakistan huffed and puffed, Modi proved that his numerous foreign jaunts weren’t just to regale stadiums of jam-packed NRIs and hear them shout his name. Powers from across the world either backed India’s surgical strike or gave vague statements asking both nations not to escalate tensions. Russia hit out strongly at Pakistan, asking them to stop letting terrorists use their land while the US admonished Pakistan for throwing the N-word around flippantly. India’s decision to pull out of SAARC 2016 at Islamabad also saw other nations follow suit which left the Pakistan establishment looking more red-faced. This seemed to be part of the grander strategy India talked about to globally isolate Pakistan.In his rhetoric, a pre-2014 Modi had promised to be strong and he finally walked the talk in 2016. While there are rumours about earlier governments also carrying out surgical strikes, this stands out because of the sheer scale of the operation and the government publicly owning it. If anyone is surprised by India’s sharp hawkish turn, one ought to know that it has been a long time coming. Time and again, like Modi in his two years, India has tried to turn the other cheek and extend an arm to Pakistan only to find itself hit. The Simla Agreement in 1972 to counter the escalation post the 1971 war petered out, as did the 2004 statement post SAARC to decrease troops. It’s time for us all to accept that we were living in fools’ paradise if we thought that we could be friends as long as Pakistan continued to foment mischief, not on a global level as it allows terrorists to act with impunity from its own soil. To expand upon Hillary Clinton’s metaphor, you simply can’t be friends with people who grow snakes in their backyard. In fact, DGMO Ranbir Singh promised in his post-Uri press conference: “I assure you that Indian army is prepared for any evil design by the adversary, and will give a befitting response. All intelligence agencies and security forces are working in close synergy and necessary action is being taken against various inputs received.” Now it’s pretty clear to everyone out there including the Pakistan army, ISI, terrorists and others that times have changed. The old days of restraint are gone, India is not going to sit around and watch idly. Hell, India will hit you even before you get in range because the days of ‘strategic restraint’ are over.

Pakistanis are ready for friendship with India: Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on Friday night offered an olive branch to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying Pakistanis are ready for friendship as war between two nuclear powers is no solution to any problem.”We want peace. We are ready for friendship if you (Modi) are willing. I offer you peace as war is no solution to problems,” Imran said while addressing a big rally here.”When I met Modi in India I told him that a small group of people may try to derail peace process between India and Pakistan. But When Uri incident took place, India without investigation blamed Pakistan and Modi started hurling threats at Pakistan,” the Pakistan Tahreek-i-Insaf chief said.Imran called on Modi not to talk about stopping water and surgical strikes, saying Pakistan is united and standing behind its army against any aggression.Addressing Modi, Imran said every Pakistani is not coward like Nawaz Sharif.”Nawaz Sharif has great love for money. In United Nations General Assembly Sharif reluctantly made pro-Kashmiri speech.Modi said Nawaz Sharif had not wanted to make that speech but he did so on the pressure of army chief Gen Raheel Sharif,” Imran said.Imran warned that India would bear more loss and stated that Modi’s his dream of “shining India” might never be fulfilled if it chooses war over peace with Pakistan.”We will continue our moral and political support to Kashmiris for their freedom struggle. We will raise our voice even for Hindus and Christians if they are denied their rights,” he said.Taking about Sharif, Imran said he would not allow the Premier to run the government after the month of Muharram if his and his family off-shore holdings are not probed.”The time of Nawaz Sharif is over. He has to go. It is our misfortune that Nawaz Sharif is our Prime Minister. Make him Britain’s premier he will destroy Britain in five years as he destroys institutions first,” he said.Imran said this was his last rally to pressure Sharif to present himself for accountability in his corruption revealed in Panama Papers.”Now after (Islamic month of) Muharram we will block Islamabad and will not allow Nawaz Sharif to run his government. Corruption money has weakened Nawaz Sharif. Sharif has committed four crimes — corruptions, onceal assets, tax evasion and money laundering. He should be made accountable for looting Pakistan and transferring huge money abroad,” Imran said.Imran in 2014 had held a four-month sit-in in Islamabad against 2013 general election rigging.

After India’s surgical strike, Pakistan warns of ‘befitting response’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on Friday warned that any “misadventure” by any “adversary” will meet the “most befitting response”, a day after India conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC).Talking to troops at a newly developed Combat Reaction Training facility in the close vicinity of Lahore Garrison, General Raheel exhorted all commanders to lay more emphasis on combat readiness, emphasizing that training in peace time is the only guarantor of averting and winning war if imposed.”Any misadventure by our adversary will meet the most befitting response,” said Raheel adding that “Pakistan cannot be coerced through any amount of malicious propaganda”. He also expressed his complete satisfaction over operational preparedness of the Army.
ALSO READ India’s surgical strike: An insider’s look at how the LoC operation was carried outIndian operations have come at a time when Raheel Sharif had been in the midst of glory after getting pat for Operation Zarb-e-Azb against Tehreek-eTaliban (TTP) and other terrorist organisations in North Waziristan.Meanwhile, chairing a special Cabinet meeting to review the security situation in the country, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan will take all necessary steps to protect its people and territorial integrity in case of any aggression or violation of the LoC.
ALSO READ Pak should take effective steps against terrorists: Russia backs India after surgical strikeTerming “Indian aggression” as a threat to the entire region, Sharif warned that Pakistan is also capable of executing surgical strikes and will not allow anyone to “cast an evil eye” on it.Earlier, Pakistani army described India’s surgical strikes as an “illusion” even as it admitted that two of its soldiers died in cross-LoC firing.
ALSO READ From Modi’s decisiveness to Pak’s conundrum: 5 takeaways from Indian Army’s surgical strikeWhile Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif accused India of “unprovoked and naked aggression”, implying that a transgression of the LoC had happened. But the Army claims they had never happened, but for the cross-border firing. Many see the reaction as a sign that Pakistan is not willing to escalate the situation immediately and will probably wait for the right opportunity to strike back.

From Modi’s decisiveness to Pak’s conundrum: 5 takeaways from Indian Army’s surgical strike

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Indian Army’s clinical exfiltration mission carrying out surgical strikes across the LoC inflicting ‘significant damage’ to terrorists and those who protect them has shocked the world. It is not only due to the fact that it comes at a time, when most commentators assumed India will be showing strategic restraint post PM Modi’s speech, but also the manner and language with which the army decided to break the news was striking and emphatic.Indian DGMO Ranbir Singh said that he has informed the Pak DGMO about the strikes once the operation was done and clearly conveyed India’s locus standi vis-à-vis cross-border terror. It was the first time India publicly acknowledged that it had carried out a preemptive strike across the LoC. Pakistan’s reaction so far has ranged from denial, exasperation and finally baying for retribution. If one looks at what has transpired in the last couple of days, some clear points emerge:1. The threshold of tolerance has been loweredDGMO’s statement says that India attacked the terror pads inside LoC as soon as credible information was received about terrorists looking to infiltrate. It indicates that India is ready to make preemptive strikes to shield its citizens rather than waiting for the enemy to attack. Contrast it with post 26/11 response, where Manmohan government decided against any such move fearing escalation. It is certainly a brave new India trying to project a no-nonsense attitude towards terror. Can the army and the upper echelons of the political class keep this level of tolerance for strikes in the future? It may determine the course of the Indo-Pak relationship.2. Pak establishment in a fixThe response to India’s surgical strike from Pakistan is a story in itself. Initially Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned ‘unprovoked aggression’ from India. It was followed up by Pak military playing down the surgical strike story saying it was routine fire-fight at the LOC. On Friday, Sharif warned India that Pakistan can also carry out a ‘surgical strike’, which was followed up by 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed practically saying the same thing. For Pakistan, it is a double edged-sword. Acknowledging it was a surgical strike means they will be under the pressure to retaliate and risk massive escalation. On the other hand, not doing anything will give a dour message to the electorate. Modi has essentially put Sharif in a bind by using the first mover’s advantage. It is up to Pakistan now to decide how to play the geo-political game in the near future.3. PM Modi’s Pak policy – A case of leveraging a massive mandatePM Modi invited Nawaz Sharif and other SAARC leaders to his oath-taking ceremony as a goodwill measure. Last year, he took an impromptu detour while coming back from Afghanistan to wish Sharif on his birthday. When Modi did this Pak outreach – it wasn’t the case that situation was extremely conducive for bilateral talks. Yet PM did his bit knowing he had the legroom to handle a hostile reaction from his core constituency. He allowed an ISI team to visit Pathankot after the siege was over. Yet, Pakistan didn’t warm to India’s olive branch and continued to give covert and overt support to terror activities in India. Nawaz Sharif eulogising Burhan Wani in UN was the proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s broke. In one swoop, India has switched the game against Pakistan and it has been made clear that talks are off the table till they mend their ways. India’s payback to Pakistan post Uri attack is part of the same doctrine. India will like to maintain cordial relations but not at the cost national security. It is time for a more muscular policy without mere posturing. An unsure leader can’t take decisive action. Modi on the other hand, could tinker his Pak policy knowing he enjoys the support of the electorate.4. Global response to surgical attackPM Modi in his speech at Kozhikode highlighted how India will be looking to marginalise Pakistan in the international forum. The India-led pull-out has virtually scuttled the 19th SAARC summit which was scheduled to be held at Islamabad in November but has been postponed. While Pak cried foul post India’s surgical strike, most countries have either taken a cautious stance or openly supported India. Bangladesh and Afghanistan have sided with India. But the most significant endorsement has come from Russia which while calling for talks between the two hostile nations has asked Pakistan to stop sheltering terrorists in their country.US and Pak ally China have reacted in a tempered manner to the surgical strike urging both the countries to aim for de-escalation. Prima facie, India’s stance has been vindicated, the fact that a surgical strike was done to stop imminent terror strikes have received a broad acceptance in the global community. That’s a big win for Modi’s foreign policy.5. India united – A rare political unison Virtually every political party in India has supported the surgical strike and backed the government’s steps to counter Pakistan. Congress VP Rahul Gandhi, went as far as to call this the ‘first time Modi acted like the PM of India’. A back-handed compliment no doubt, but Modi will take it for now. The fact remains that with the Uri payback, PM Modi has managed to silence his critics, charm the neutrals and assuage the core base who were increasingly getting iffy with lack of action on several fronts. Modi is almost midway through his term – a time when the traditional support base of a leader starts depleting. For PM Modi the afterglow of this attack is a golden opportunity to push legislative agendas, when the nation wants its politicians to speak in one voice. It is a time for Modi to reboot his policies and look for greater consensus to implement the mandate people have entrusted him with.All in all, India has played its card right with the decisive blow. The script could have gone horribly wrong. A botched operation would have meant a huge face loss for both the army and civilian leadership. But an aspirational superpower, looking to get its seat at the high-table with other world powers can’t afford to be defensive when its sovereignty is threatened. India has just defined the new-normal to the global community.

Pakistan’s reaction after surgical strikes: Chief Justice skips India summit, theatres ban Indian films,

The Indian Army’s surgical strikes on Wednesday night along the LoC in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) has set-off a series of reactions from the Pakistani side, even as its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif claimed that Islamabad is all for peace. After a series of soft push backs, New Delhi had upped its anti-Pakistan narrative following the Uri terror attack.

While the Indian government sought to isolate its neighbour on the international platform, with moves like pulling out of the Saarc Summit, the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA), an artists’ body, banned Pakistani artistes and technicians from working in India.

Representational image. News 18Representational image. News 18

Representational image. News 18

Now reports have surfaced that Pakistan’s theatre owners have decided to withdraw and ban screening of Indian movies until bilateral tensions between the two countries subside.

“We will suspend the screening of Indian films till normalcy. No Indian movies will play in my cinemas from Friday onwards,” said Nadeem Mandviwalla, owner of Mandviwalla Entertainment which runs Atrium Cinemas in Karachi and Centaurus in Islamabad, according to PTI.

In the past week, Bollywood films Pink and Banjo had released in Pakistan. Though MS Dhoni: The Untold Story too was supposed to release, Pakistan film distributor IMGC Global Entertainment withheld it, citing reasons like the movie could have anti-Pakistan elements in its narrative about cricket, the company’s head Amjad Rasheed told IANS over phone from Dubai.

Another cinema owner added that this ban should continue until the Indian government offers Pakistani films a level playing field and Pakistani artistes complete protection. However, the Pakistani government has not yet issued an official directive in this regard.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali also cancelled his visit to India next month, citing the “present conditions”, according to Pakistani media reports. Jamali has refused to attend the global conference slated to be held in India from 21-23 October, Radio Pakistan reported.

In July, Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale had personally invited Jamali to the conference on national initiative to strengthen arbitration and enforcement. In a letter to the Indian Supreme Court, Jamali said that in the “present conditions” he could not attend the meeting, the News International reported.

The decision was made due to tense situation between the two countries, the report said. A senior official of the Pakistan Supreme Court said that though the Pakistan Foreign Office recommended that the CJP may attend the conference, Jamali refused to visit India in light of the prevailing circumstances, the Express Tribune reported.

Jamali’s decision can be seen as a meltdown to the long-standing peace efforts between the two nations.

Trade relations could not remain untouched as Pakistan scuttled India’s participation in the Asian Trade Promotion Forum (ATPF) CEO meet held this week by withholding travel permission of an Indian High Commission official to Lahore. The 29th ATPF CEO meet was held in Lahore from 24 to 26 September and the trade counsellor of the Indian mission was scheduled to attend the event. However, he was denied permission to travel. The ATPF, comprising 24 member countries including Australia, Japan and China, aims to enhance trade in the region through information exchange, implementation of cooperative projects and strengthening networks among members.

Meanwhile, the usual political rhetoric also stayed in place as Sharif chaired a Cabinet meeting to “to put across collective response of the nation to the challenge thrown by the latest events,” Radio Pakistan reported.

According to PTI, Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said support to the “just struggle of the Kashmiri people would remain priority of Pakistan and it would not back down on this account” while he blamed India for indulging in “diversionary tactics” in a bid to deflect attention of the international community from its “brutalities” against Kashmiris. Pakistan’s Defence Minister also said that India is displaying “irresponsible attitude” and trying to play to the gallery in a bid to “hoodwink” its public opinion.

Also, retaliating on the diplomatic level, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi has said that she is due to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday to discuss the existing situation between India and Pakistan. She also met New Zealand’s UN Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, who is the current president of the 15-member UN Security Council, and urged him to informally brief the world body on the escalating tension along the border.

Pressing further the escalation ceiling between the two nuclear armed neighbours, India had carried out a surgical strikes at seven terrorist launch pads in PoK. The attack is being termed as New Delhi’s retaliation to the 18 September terror attack on Indian Army Base in Uri where 19 soldiers lost their lives. The attack is also being largely seen as an attempt to quell the handful incidents of cross-border skirmishes and crossfire violations from the Pakistani side. According to PTI, including Friday’s firing in Akhmoor district in Jammu, Pakistan has violated the ceasefire five times in September and three times in past 36 hours.

With inputs from agencies

India and Pakistan sail into uncharted waters with neither peace nor war in sight

With the surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC), India has abandoned the doctrine of strategic restraint which had allowed Pakistan-based terror groups to hit India with impunity. With this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has changed the India-Pakistan narrative.

Whether this will bring down the terror strikes launched from Pakistani soil or lead to a dangerous escalation between the two nuclear armed South Asian rivals is not clear.

This is the first time that Indian troops had crossed the LoC under the NDA government, something that was avoided during the Kargil incursions. The new narrative fashioned by the Prime Minister and the NSA is for every hit there will be a counter hit.

A file photo of PM Narendra Modi. PTI

A file photo of PM Narendra Modi. PTI

The Modi government has acted with maturity in handling the complex situation. The fact that DGMO Lt General Ranbir Singh had called up his counterpart to inform him and insist that India’s action along the LoC was not military action but “anti-terror” move is also worth noting. Unlike after the Myanmar operations, when there was much chest-thumping by many BJP leaders, including Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, this time around there was relatively less crowing.

The DGMO’s statement was to the point and brief. His statement mentioned action along the LoC, without letting out whether soldiers crossed the line. What the rest of the ministers said does not matter, but the official line kept the issue vague.

Government had no choice but to strike

For the BJP-led Modi government, there was no other choice. India’s patience was running low. In fact, since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, people’s anger at regular terror strikes from anti-India outfits nurtured by Pakistan have been growing. To be fair to Modi, despite his constant mocking of his UPA predecessor Manmohan Singh’s soft approach to terror, he too tried his best to befriend Pakistan. The invitation to Nawaz Sharif to attend his swearing-in, the detour from Kabul to call on Sharif on his birthday were all part of his effort for peace negotiations. But Pathankot and then Uri combined with Sharif’s eroding clout in Pakistan, made him realise the futility of his peace overtures. The death of 18 Indian soldiers in the Uri terror attack also led to the growing demand from Prime Minister’s own hardline followers for retaliatory action. The BJP has always believed in a strong government and failing to act against Pakistan would have indicated a measure of weakness that did not go down well with the PM’s strong man image.

The government had to act and to declare that it has done so openly. A covert operation was out of question because the people had to be told that Modi was not Manmohan Singh.

Calibrated pitch

Instead of a knee-jerk reaction following the Uri attack, the government took time and covered the loopholes. In the diplomatic front, India gave its version to the assembled world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke with maturity, while young Eenam Gambhir’s reply to Sharif was succinct. India not only announced that Modi will not travel to Islamabad for the Saarc Summit, but also got Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan to pull out. Regional isolation of Pakistan was complete. Doing this at the international level will not be easy, because the US needs Pakistan to get a peace deal negotiated in Afghanistan with the Taliban.

The US was kept in the loop with US Security Advisor Susan Rice speaking to Ajit Doval after Wednesday’s strikes. By evening, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar also briefed 25 envoys about India’s action. Ambassadors of the P-5 countries — US, Russia, France, UK and China — were all present.

Pakistan’s reaction

“Pakistan will not react immediately,” said former foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh. “Sooner or later they will change the narrative,’’ he pointed out. The Pakistan army has not admitted to Indian attack at the seven launch pads along the LoC. They continue to maintain that it was cross-border firing in which two of their soldiers died and nine others injured. “Very soon, they will focus on unprovoked attack by India on Pakistan’s sovereignty. I think they will also take this before the UNSC.”

“India will be kept in tenterhooks through the festival season,” said Ambassador Mansingh.

Islamabad will also launch a counter-diplomatic offensive. They will brief China, the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) members, which includes major Islamic powers like Turkey and Egypt.

There will be much talk by Pakistani experts of using tactical nuclear weapons if Indian soldiers cross the LoC but the government is now willing to take this in its stride. There will be fresh tension between India and Pakistan. China, which has invested $46 billion in Pakistan for its one belt-one road initiative will call for talks.

Anxieties about problems in Balochistan will propel China to work for peace between India and Pakistan.

India and Pakistan will be on edge for the next few months and there will be blasts of accusations and counter-accusations from both capitals. The truth is: We are on uncharted waters and will have to see if this results in ultimate peace or war.

Surgical strikes: Rahul Gandhi praises PM Modi; says Congress party and the entire nation stands by him

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Friday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a day after the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes across the Line of control (LoC).”I want to thank him (PM Modi) that for the first time in two and half years he has taken an action that is of the stature of PM,” said Rahul addressing a rally in Bulandshahar. “Modi has my full support; the Congress party and entire nation is standing by him,” he added.”All of us stand firmly united against terrorism and those who support and sponsor it. The Congress party and I salute the Indian Army and our jawans for acting valiantly to defend our country and our people,” Rahul had said on Thursday.Adding that India had also shared details of the surgical strikes with Pakistan Army and expected them to cooperate in the fight against terror, he said, “The motive of this operation was to hit out at the terrorists who were planning to infiltrate into our territory.”Pakistan has, however, denied the strikes took place, with PM Nawaz Sharif saying, “The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects.”

Surgical strikes show just how badly Pakistan misunderstood Narendra Modi

Jung bahut karli. Jung karke kya paya, na zameen mili na jannat paya (What has war yielded? Neither land nor heaven).”

These words spoken firmly in the ear of Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz at the Raiwind Palace — albeit not in quite as sophisticated and chaste Urdu — by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lahore exactly 11 months ago must be resonating rather loudly now.

The Sharif brothers seem to have mistaken Modi’s utterances as a sign of his love for Urdu shaayari. In his book The Pakistan Paradox by Christophe Jafferlot, the French scholar on South Asia aptly writes: “The idea of Pakistan (is) riddled with tensions. Initiated by a small group of select Urdu-speaking Muslims who envisioned a unified Islamic state, today Pakistan suffers the divisive forces of various separatist movements and religious fundamentalism”.

File iamge of Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. AFP

File iamge of Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif. AFP

Perhaps attuned to dealing with Indian politicians prone to display their love for shaayari more than realpolitik, there is nothing amiss if the Pakistan establishment regarded Modi’s utterances as the usual platitudes. But those who know Modi could vouch for the fact that the prime minister is not known for lowering his guard and talking inanities to please someone.

Take for instance, the following: His silence after the India’s surgical strikes inside Pakistan is indicative of his focused approach to the task at hand. Those who met him or spoke to him over the past three days admit that Modi did not let anyone know about his steely resolve to carry out the operations. Not even once did he lend credence to the notion of warmongering. His speeches at Kozhikode were measured and calculated to address the domestic and international audience. In his public meeting, he talked about fighting a “thousand-year war with Pakistan” to end poverty, illiteracy and infant-mortality. In his BJP’s national council, he was particularly emphatic on his party’s attempt to co-opt Muslims as “our own”.

The astute politician that he is, Modi is acutely conscious of the fact that the war hysteria in India must be contained to check the divisiveness on Hindu-Muslim fault line. That is the precise reason that he selectively used his silence and eloquence, both, as strategic assets. And this is not the first time Modi did it. There is a discernible pattern.

Recall 26 July, 2008 when Ahmedabad witnessed multiple bomb blasts triggered by Indian Mujahideen group that claimed the lives of 60-odd people. Modi, as a chief minister, was requested by the then police commissioner to not visit the site. He not only ignored the police officials’ advise but also visited the hospitals where injured were brought in the midst of reports of successive blasts. He looked supremely calm and avoided rhetoric. However, in a secret operation conducted with the help of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), his police teams conducted raids across the country and nabbed all culprits. The operation’s secrecy was blown away when the UP government headed by Mayawati prevented the Gujarat Police from carting away a terrorist arrested from Azamgarh in a secret raid.

Modi’s discreet behaviour is deeply internalised in his political personae. Those closely watching his behaviour would see discernible pattern. For example he dissuaded the Ministry of External Affairs after the Pathankot attack to go all out against Pakistan. The MEA’s reaction after the Pathankot attacks was quite restraint and avoided mentioning Pakistan to give the Pakistani establishment space to manoeuvre. Despite stiff resistance by the Indian agencies and the home ministry, a team of Pakistani investigators was allowed to conduct the probe in Pathankot airbase. However this magnanimity was taken by the Pakistani establishment as consistent with the old Indian approach.

In sharp contrast to the Pathankot attacks, the government adopted a silent approach after the attack on the Uri brigade headquarters of the army. Apart from Modi’s tweet assuring people to get even with perpetrators of the attack, Modi avoided war rhetoric. The investigative agency too did not bother to seek any help from the Pakistani establishment. Right from the word go, there was no ambiguity in the prime minister’s mind that it was military action by Pakistan camouflaged as terrorism.

Those who know Modi could vouch for the fact that the prime minister is not known for lowering his guard and talking inanities to please someone

Although Modi let other colleagues like Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj manage the domestic and external fronts respectively, he was totally immersed in operational details of India’s response. He did factor in the inherent instability of Pakistan, its own fault-lines and the jihadist mindset of a section of its army while fashioning India’s response. And he started making preparations for such an eventuality after the Uri attack. In fact, his soft message delivered on 25 December, 2015 at Raiwind Palace was an abstract for the text he has been preparing for Pakistan.

Unfortunately, the Sharif household and Pakistani establishment failed to understand its meaning.

Surgical strikes across LoC: Nawaz Sharif reviews defence preparedness, holds talks with Army chief

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday reviewed the defence preparedness, holding talks with army chief Raheel Sharif and other top aides after India carried out surgical strikes against terror bases across the LoC. Sharif and Raheel had a telephonic conversation during which they discussed situation at the Line of Control (LoC), The News reported, citing sources.

File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Raheel apprised the premier over the firing incidents at the LoC, the sources said, adding that the army chief told him that Indian claims of surgical strikes were “baseless”. Sharif told the army chief that the entire nation had high morale and was committed to defend the motherland along with the armed forces.

The Prime Minister was also briefed on the LoC situation by National Security Advisor (NSA) General Nasir Janjua after Indian Army carried out 5-6 surgical strikes against terror bases across the LoC.

The NSA has submitted a comprehensive report on the LoC situation to Sharif, Radio Pakistan reported. It added the Prime Minister is also briefed regularly on the situation on the LOC by the security institutions. Sharif has shown satisfaction on the level of preparedness of Pakistani armed forces to match any “provocation” by Indian security forces, the report said.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) has dismissed as “fabrication of truth” India’s claim that it conducted a military operation across the LoC, terming it as a “quest” by India to create media hype by rebranding cross-border fire as surgical strike.

“There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon,” it said.

India Army’s surgical strikes across LoC: Pakistan plays brave, but shock palpable

Multiple strikes by Indian Special Forces on Pakistan’s terrorist launch pads-cum-terrorist camps on night of 28 September should have deflated some of the putrid gas because of which Pakistani leaders and their army have been strutting around making wild statements. The world knows that the Pakistani Army has not won a single war, has lost half its country during the birth of Bangladesh and surrendered 93,000 prisoners of war to India. Pakistan sheltered Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US Special Forces at Abbotabad; besides, Mullah Mansour Akhtar too was killed inside Pakistan, in the Balochistan province.

Despite this and without adequate pressure from US and China, Pakistan has been conducting a proxy war against India and Afghanistan with impunity. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gone out of his way with an extended hand of friendship to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, but the latter was hell-bent on stabbing India in the back — just like all previous Pakistani presidents and prime ministers, with their own military as the Sword of Damocles over their heads.

The manner in which the surgical strikes were conducted at seven widely-dispersed locations astride the LoC so successfully by elements of two Special Forces units of the Northern Command speaks highly of professionalism. The success of these actions also should be seen in the backdrop of the fact that the Pakistani Army was on high alert for the past 10 days, not to mention the night flights by F-16s over Islamabad, and Nawaz and his defence minister Khawaja Asif along with Minister for Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and COAS Raheel Sharif talking of war and twitching their nuclear tails.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The fact that the Pakistani Army was taken by surprise, tried to intervene with Indian Special Forces strikes and lost four regular Pakistani soldiers (two, as admitted by Nawaz) adds to the success. The clinical strikes inflicted heavy casualties on the terrorists, their supporters and the Pakistani Army without any loss to India’s troops. The capture and interrogation of the Pakistani-origin guides who helped the Pakistani terrorists during the Uri attack had once again confirmed the Pakistani Army’s involvement — which was not only denied by Nawaz, but countered in the most absurd terms by saying that the Uri attack was engineered from within India.

After the Uri terror attack, there was tremendous pressure on the government to retaliate. In between there were also fake reports of our Special Forces having gone across the LoC, struck terrorist locations, killed 20 and injured some 200. This was perhaps a deliberate ruse to lull the enemy and it obviously worked. The Pakistani military was clearly confident that India would not resort to any physical action of this type. The intended targets, however, were being kept under constant surveillance following the attack on the army camp at Uri, to be struck at the right time. These strikes would have come as a terrific jolt to Pakistan. In fact, the surprise was so complete that the Pakistani posts opened fire only after our troops were safely back home. These strikes, under the leadership of Modi, have demonstrated to the world — Pakistan in particular — that India cannot be viewed as a ‘soft’ State. Pakistan was apparently expecting a conventional response, which it feared most; hence, the periodic nuclear sabre-rattling.

The list of some 35-40 terrorist training camps in PoK along with their locations has been available with the Indian Parliament. The Pakistani hierarchy appears to be milling around in surprise. Pakistan’s ISI is trying to showcase that nothing much has happened, but the shock effect is palpable. Our strikes in PoK are definitely not any aggression because PoK territory is an integral part of India; terrorists were struck, not the Pakistani military, and our troops returned having completed the assigned task successfully. Will Pakistan curb its terrorist activities now? There is no question absolutely because the Pakistani military not only holds Pakistan and the Pakistani public to ransom, it has infiltrated ever department and organ in Pakistan: Economic, administrative and so on.

More significantly, Pakistani scholar Ayesha Siddiqa in her book Military Inc had propounded in 2007 that the Pakistani military’s private-industrial-corporate complex was to the tune of $20 billion already. This figure must have multiplied several times over, and to retain this power and money, the Pakistani military must have conflict both with India and Afghanistan. So, it is not going to give up Pakistan using terrorism as a state policy.

For all the peaceniks who feared any physical retaliation to the Uri attack (war, including nuclear war), I hope it is clear once for all that there is plenty of space below conventional war. In fact, the response to asymmetric war must always be asymmetric. We should have realised this after Operation Parakram following the Parliament attack. We should have struck Pakistan sub-conventionally both after the 26 November, 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and the Parliament attack. Not that we should have not have done so after the terror attack on the IAF base in Pathankot this January, as well as earlier ones.

The manner in which the surgical strikes were conducted at seven widely-dispersed locations astride the LoC so successfully by elements of two Special Forces units of the Northern Command speaks highly of professionalism

At the same time, we must acknowledge that these cross-LoC strikes by our Special Forces were around three kilometres across, rightly exploiting the porosity of the border — a factor that has been used mainly by Pakistan till now, to India’s disadvantage. With these trans-border strikes, Pakistanis will be more alert. However, the option of such future strikes will remain possible. At the same time, while Special Forces are central to an asymmetric response, a direct form of trans-border actions of this type is just ‘one’ task with which they should be tasked. Special Forces provide the government with multiple low-cost options without or with ambiguous options.

They should be employed on politico-military missions at the strategic level. The government will do well to establish the Special Operations Command, directly under Modi for such tasks, leaving actions like these multiple trans-border strikes to the Military Special Forces. Interestingly, the Pakistani media has criticised escalation along the LoC but has “rejected” India’s claim of having conducted the cross-border surgical strikes. However, escalation by Pakistan is very much on the cards, given the Pakistani military psyche discussed above.

We should be geared for terrorism across India and an escalation in the forms of terrorist attacks — even chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks or lone wolf attacks. In addition, cross-border attacks from Pakistan could increase. Should there be more escalation, Pakistan can be expected to ‘deploy’ its nuclear weapons and publicise it. Besides calling its nuclear buff, Islamabad has to be told that New Delhi’s ‘No First Use’ doctrine applies to the ‘threat’ of nuclear attack as well.

Additionally, our Special Forces have already been conducting joint training. Should Pakistan continue with its proxy war on India and Afghanistan, there should be ample opportunities for joint operations by these two forces against Pakistan. Modi has once again demonstrated that his leadership is class apart. Kudos to him and congratulations to our Special Forces and IAF helicopter pilots for the above highly successful surgical strikes in PoK.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army who has served in Kashmir