Posts Tagged ‘Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’

Pakistan: Nawaz comes under fire in Senate for Mumbai attack remarks — Sharif’s remarks are “treasonous”

May 15, 2018

Several senators on both sides of the aisle on Monday fired a broadside at former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for his recent statement about the Mumbai attacks, with some going as far as demanding that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo be tried under treason laws.

The discussion on a motion on the country’s political situation turned into diatribe against Mr Sharif who, many senators claimed, had made an irresponsible remark that could prove damaging for the country. They demanded that he apologise to the nation and retract his statement. Some of the senators even demanded that the PML-N leader be tried for high treason; that his name be placed on the Exit Control List, and a thorough investigation to determine the reasons behind the statement made by a thrice-elected prime minister.

Several senators belonging to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl — an ally of the ruling PML-N — also condemned Mr Sharif’s statement, saying he had endorsed the “enemy’s” narrative. Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri also proposed a probe to determine why the former PM had made the statement.

Journalists run for shelter as the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai burns under fire from terrorists cooped inside.Journalists run for shelter as the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai burns under fire from terrorists cooped inside.(Photo: Reuters)

The senators pointed out that while Mr Sharif was determined to stick to his words, his younger brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had claimed that the remarks had been distorted and presented in a misleading manner. They also criticised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for what they called acting as an advocate for Nawaz Sharif.

Non-state actors were hired by India, says Rehman Malik

They said the former PM had insinuated that the non-state actors who had carried out the attacks in Mumbai were sponsored by the state of Pakistan. They said going so far in a bid to escape accountability was highly condemnable.

Former interior minister Rehman Malik said there was no doubt that the 2008 Mumbai attacks had been carried out by non-state actors in Pakistan who had been hired by India. He claimed that the attackers had travelled in a boat and stayed with a woman, who was an operative for Indian intelligence agency RAW. This was why investigators from Pakistan were not allowed access to suspect Ajmal Kasab, he claimed, because they knew that the drama they had staged themselves would be exposed. He advised Mr Sharif to retract his statement.

Senator Nauman Wazir read out the definition of “treason”, and requested the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of Mr Sharif’s “treasonous” remarks.

Senator Faisal Javed suggested that the former prime minister’s name should be placed on the ECL and a probe be launched into his sons’ businesses in India.

Senator Shibli Faraz of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said the PML-N lawmakers had also condemned their leader’s remarks in their private conversations.

No one from the treasury benches was available to wind up the discussion, so Monday’s session was wound up without a response from the government’s side.

Earlier taking part in the discussion on the political situation, Senator Javed Abbasi of the PML-N said there was a threat to democratic institutions, adding that the Constitution had defined the role of the judiciary, executive and legislature and Pakistan’s salvation lay in strict adherence to the system.

He warned against targeting a political party and blocking its way, noting that everyone should have an equal opportunity of taking part in the upcoming electoral exercise.

He said that free and fair polls should take place on time. He referred to the rumours of an extended term of the interim government and said the prime minister and the leader of the opposition should decide the name of the caretaker prime minister without delay, and not leave the matter for others to meddle in.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1407814

 

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Pakistan’s Electricity Shortage: Loadshedding returned many parts to darkness as the nation’s power grid couldn’t cope

May 2, 2018

ISLAMABAD: While the federal government has already announced it has overcome electricity shortage, power loadshedding returned with a bang on Tuesday when the mercury rose to 49 degrees centigrade in some parts of the country and transmission system and power plants tripped amid falling fuel stocks.

For the power shortfall, which exceeded 5,000 megawatts, the energy ministry’s power division looking after the national grid and distribution system attributed the revival of power outages to unavailability of Balloki, Bhikki, Haveli Bahadur Shah power plants, four nuclear plants, Neelum-Jhelum and other hydropower stations.

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Is the age of having no electricity for hours at a time is back in Pakistan?.— Photo by Adil Siddiqui

Updated May 02, 2018

Officials in the petroleum division of the ministry of energy said it was just the beginning as furnace oil stocks were at a very low level and the oil shipments due to the belated permission given by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi might not arrive before May 3.

“Even arrival of ships alone is not enough,” said a senior petroleum division official. He said the entire supply chain from berthing to product offloading, pumping to the pipeline or tankers, and its transportation to power houses required between three and 15 days, depending on the location of the power plants in Karachi or Lahore.

“It would, therefore, require a seamless coordination among the operational entities — PSO, port authorities, transport operators, power plant operators and the two divisions concerned — to work day and night” to complete the process, he added.

Furnace oil shipments to arrive in next two weeks due to delayed permission by PM for import

“The margin of error is zero this time,” the official said, adding that any delay would cost the PML-N government high before the upcoming general elections as it had already announced it had overcome power shortage.

While the officials said the overall shortfall excee­ded 5,000MW, informed sources said the power cuts to the consumers hovered between 7,000MW and 8,000MW including transformational, transmission and distribution losses as well as non-withdrawal of power by distribution companies. The network operators had to resort to forced loadshedding to avoid system collapse.

As a result, consumers in category-1 (feeders having less than 10 per cent loss areas) also suffered four- to six-hour-long power cuts though they are out of the approved load management policy of the government.

The power division auth­orities claimed the situation was almost under control but warned that the next 36 hours could be critical.

On Tuesday evening, the power division directed the distribution companies to limit their power withdrawals within approved quota and ensure that category-1 feeders, comprising 61 per cent of service areas, suffer the least and park maximum shortage in high-loss areas. Such areas, therefore, suffered prolonged power cuts ranging between 12 and 14 hours a day.

The petroleum division officials said the fuel stock at the Hubco plant was less than three days of consumption while Bin Qasim plant of K-Electric had five-day stocks. The situation in Punjab was not well either.

They said all the six ships transporting a total of 420,000 tonnes of fuel would arrive between May 3 and 14.

“Power production will fall drastically ahead of the holy month of Ramazan if the supply chain is not managed effectively,” said a senior petroleum division official.

He added that the countrywide stocks had been depleting fast since the time when an urgent tender was floated in the early April 2018 by PSO following instructions of the economic coordination committee of the cabinet.

“The stock available for use with power generation companies across the country is depleting fast while the situation with Karachi-based power generation units is critical with furnace oil stock available only for consumption only less than a week,” the official said.

Only a few days ago, the government directed the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) to float a tender to urgently order furnace oil cargo. The government had decided in January to ban the import of furnace oil.

PSO’s total receivables on Tuesday stood at Rs312 billion, including Rs261 billion payable by power sector, Rs26 billion by gas companies for LNG and Rs26 billion by PIA and the government.

Power plants trip

A power division spokesman said the 220kV National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) high-transmission circuits such as 220kV Daudkhel, 220kV Bannu, 220kV Ludewala and the four Chashma Nuclear Power Plants of 1,200MW tripped at 1:30am on Tuesday. In a written statement, the spokesman said supply to these power plants (C-I, C-II, C-III and C-IV) had been restored by mid-day and 220kV NTDC lines energized. However, the restoration of generation from these plants would take time as a definite protocol had to be followed, the statement said.

The spokesman also said the RLNG-based power plants — Havelli Bahadar Shah, Bhikki and Balloki (with a total generation capacity of 3,600MW) — were in a testing phase with no power generation from these plants currently available. The hydropower generation was also low due to the low water release from reservoirs. Besides, he added, the new Neelum-Jehlum power plants, too, were in testing phase.

The power division spokesman described the situation of the national grid as “temporary due to unavoidable situation”. He said the consumers would be provided relief as soon as any plant would start generation. He appealed to the consumers to adopt energy conservation practices.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1405137/loadshedding-rears-its-head-as-fuel-stocks-dip

Pakistan: Supreme Court seeks data of people who sent money abroad

April 27, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to provide it with details of foreign currency transactions of $50,000 or more by Pakistani nationals who quietly siphoned off foreign currency to other countries over the past year.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, gave SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa one week to submit details of all transactions involving tranches of $50,000 or more, along with particulars of the individuals who made the transactions.

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Dawn (Pakistan)

The court had taken up the case regarding illegal transfer of money from Pakistan to other countries on a suo motu notice after learning that several Pakistanis continued to maintain bank accounts abroad, without disclosing them to the authorities or paying taxes in accordance with the law.

The court noted that foreign currency was being siphoned off, without payment of taxes, through illegal channels. This money, the court concluded, either represented ill-gotten gains or kickbacks from public contracts. The court added that this created gross disproportion, inequality and disparity in society, which warped economic activity and growth, and constituted plunder and theft of national wealth.

SBP asked to provide details of transactions worth $50,000 or more over the past year

On Thursday, when the SBP governor told the apex court that Section 5(3) of the Protection of Economic Reforms Act 1992 provided protection to account holders from sharing personal information with the public, the court ordered the central bank to furnish the information to it in a sealed envelope.

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Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar

During the proceedings Chief Justice Nisar regretted the depreciation of Pakistani currency and said the US-Pak currency parity was Rs118 to a dollar at present.

On April 5, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi unveiled the Economic Reforms Package  (ERP) — another ‘one-time’ amnesty scheme, which many believe will help criminal elements whiten undeclared assets at home and abroad. Under the package income tax has also been reduced for existing taxpayers and issuance of dollar-denominated bonds has been allowed.

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Prime Minister ShahidKhaqanAbbasi

Under the scheme the government intends to offer amnesty to those who have not been paying taxes to become taxpayers and whiten their assets — both local and foreign.

On March 26, the court constituted a 12-member committee and tasked it with tracing and encouraging Pakistani nationals to declare their assets abroad.

The SBP governor highlighted the need to scrutinise existing rules and agreements to consider how the money might have been sent abroad.

The court wondered whether or not the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) could ask taxpayers about their foreign accounts. The SBP governor replied that every taxpayer was obligated to disclose their foreign assets and accounts in income tax returns. If they failed to disclose these details, the authorities could not ask them for information about their foreign accounts.

A former minister and one of the petitioners in the case, Mohammad Ali Durrani, regretted that usually a country’s economy was supposed to improve and get stronger if a money launderer was nabbed; however, the opposite was true for Pakistan. He said the economy registered a negative effect when the chief justice spoke about arresting financial offenders.

While hearing a case about non-performing loans worth billions of rupees, as well as the ones that are written off by commercial banks, the apex court observed that loans that were waived off on political grounds would be recovered.

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The court also warned that it would forfeit the assets of those who failed to return the loans. The court said a summary of all such loans should be submitted within a week’s time.

During the hearing one of the petitioners, Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party, alleged that former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto, Mohammad Khan Junejo, Yousuf Raza Gillani and others had gotten loans worth Rs518 billion waived off during their tenures. Similarly, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and his brother had gotten loans worth Rs120bn written off.

The court recalled a report prepared by a three-person commission constituted to probe bank loan write-offs worth billions of rupees between 1971 and 2009.

The commission report, which was spread over more than 2,200 pages, had suggested that Rs87bn worth of loans had been waived off in the past four decades, a major chunk of which (Rs84.62bn) was waived off between 1992 and 2009, while Rs2.3bn worth of loans were written off from 1971 to 1991.

The suo motu case was initiated by the top court in 2008 on news reports that the central bank had quietly allowed commercial banks to write off non-performing loans (NPLs) under a scheme introduced by former dictator retired General Pervez Musharraf.

Instead of launching an effective campaign for the recovery of NPLs, the SBP issued an incentive scheme for banks/DFIs in October 2002 to waive off the loans of organisations showing “losses” for three years.

In their voluminous report, the commission regretted that they examined 740 cases but, despite their best efforts the banks and DFIs did not provide information regarding loans sanctioned on “other than business considerations”. The report added that either bankers were afraid of politicians or the civil/military bureaucracy, or were privy to sanctioning loans or factually the quantum of such loans was not high.

Of the 740 cases it examined, the commission stated, a comparatively small number was directly related to well-known politicians and civil or military bureaucrats. Though there were some prominent names of people who had availed write-off concessions, the number and quantum was not large enough.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2018

https://www.dawn.com/news/1404135

King of Jordan arrives in Islamabad

February 8, 2018

In this file photo, Jordan’s King Abdullah meets with members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the US Capitol in Washington, Feb. 3, 2015. (REUTERS)
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ISLAMABAD: King of Jordan Abdullah II has arrived in Islamabad, on Thursday, on a two day official visit to Pakistan.
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He is visiting Islamabad on the invitation of President Mamnoon Hussain.
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King Abdullah II is leading a high-level delegation, including senior officials.
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During his stay in Pakistani capital, the King of Jordan will hold talks with President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
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Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbas
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“Bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest will be discussed,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
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Pakistani authorities say that the visit would provide an opportunity to explore ways and means to further strengthen cooperation in diverse areas of mutual interest, particularly expanding bilateral trade and enhance investments in Pakistan.
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“Pakistan and Jordan enjoy extremely close and brotherly relations. They share common perceptions on regional and international issues and matters concerning the Muslim Ummah,” the ministry of foreign affairs statement reads.
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“The visit of His Majesty King Abdullah II is expected to give a new impetus to the existing fraternal bonds between the two brotherly countries,” the statement added.
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Pakistan moving towards instability: Nawaz Sharif

December 15, 2017

Geo News

LONDON: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said the country is moving towards instability and the current circumstances in Pakistan are not satisfactory.

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Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz added that the country, which was progressing well, is now moving towards instability after the July 28 decision.

“I said it during my rally in Quetta too, such decisions become the reason for anarchy in a country,” said the former prime minister.

Nawaz is in London after the court had exempted him for a short duration from appearing in the hearings held for the NAB references registered against him.

Nawaz said his government has worked hard during the last four years to improve the country and the circumstances of the masses.

However, he said, terrorism which was under control during his leadership is again rearing its head in the country.

“CPEC projects have slowed down, projects are not progressing at the speed as they were during our tenure,” elaborated Nawaz further and added that the stock exchange, which was hovering around 54,000 points, has now dropped down to around 37,000 points.

“These are all economic indicators. Political instability effects the country.”

Nawaz also expressed his dismay at the current circumstances.

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Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

Earlier today, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif arrived at Hasan Nawaz’s office in London to meet party leader and former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, Shehbaz’s son Salman, and other members of the family were also present at the meeting.

Abbasi said the government would complete its tenure and elections would be held on time.

“The government will complete its tenure and elections will be held on time,” said the prime minister, reiterating the government’s stance.

The prime minister also said that the merger of FATA with KP is part of the agenda and some reservations raised are being allayed.

The PML-N leaders also met former premier Shaukat Aziz at his London residence yesterday to offer their condolences on the demise of his son.

According to credible sources privy to developments in PML-N, Nawaz has also recently met former finance minister Ishaq Dar in London. The meeting was held at the residence of Nawaz’s son, Hasan Nawaz, wherein the present situation of the country came under discussion, sources said.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/172299-country-moving-towards

US defense chief lands in Pakistan as ties between allies fray — Expected to urge Pakistan to eliminate militant safe havens, fight war against Islamist terrorists

December 4, 2017

© AFP/File | Mattis says he’s ready to listen during his trip to Pakistan

 AFP

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Pakistan Monday as Washington pressures its wayward ally to eliminate militant safe havens, days after Pakistani authorities freed an alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.Mattis landed at an air force base in the garrison city of Rawalpindi bordering Islamabad, according to a pool report, before heading to the US embassy.

During the brief stopover in the capital, he is set to hold talks with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the powerful military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

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General Qamar Javed Bajwa

Mattis’s first visit to the country as defense secretary of defense comes as the US pushes its longtime ally to do more to combat insurgents who allegedly use bases in Pakistan’s tribal belt to target NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Relations suffered a further blow after a Pakistani court ordered the release of firebrand cleric Hafiz Saeed in late November, prompting a furious response from the White House.

Saeed heads the UN-listed terrorist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa and has a $10 million US bounty on his head. He had been under house arrest but was released after a court in Lahore said officials had not provided any evidence of his role in the days-long assault on India’s capital which killed more than 160 people.

The decision to release Saeed coincided with the beleaguered government’s capitulation to Islamist protesters holding a sit-in in the Pakistani capital.

The deal, which the military helped broker, saw the federal law minister resign over blasphemy allegations.

It sent shockwaves through the country, sparking fears that the military was doing little to keep extremism in check after supporting the demands of a small group of hardliners.

President Donald Trump first signalled that the US was reassessing its fractious relations with Pakistan during a televised speech in August, launching a blistering attack on Islamabad for harbouring “agents of chaos”.

The remarks triggered a series of high-level diplomatic meetings in the US and Pakistan, but Islamabad has given few signs of concessions to Washington.

Pakistan has consistently rejected claims it supports Taliban-allied forces, insisting it maintains contacts with insurgents only as a means to bring them to the table for peace talks.

Pakistan, which has long harboured fears of encirclement by arch-rival India, has also bristled at Trump’s calls for an increased Indian role in rebuilding Afghanistan.

Last week the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, said Islamabad had not carried out the “clear” demands made by Washington.

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General John Nicholson

“We have not seen those changes implemented yet,” he told reporters.

But en route to Pakistan Mattis told reporters he would not use pressure as a tactic and insisted he would do “some listening”.

When asked if he would “prod” Islamabad to take more action, he replied: “That’s not the way I deal with issues. I believe that we work hard on finding the common ground, and then we work together, so that’s the approach I want to take.”

Pakistan Rejects China Dam Aid; Stuns China’s One Belt One Road Planners

November 16, 2017

File photo used for representational purpose

In a jolt to OBOR, Pakistan rejects China dam aid

Saibal Dasgupta | TNN | Updated: Nov 16, 2017, 11:33 IST


Pakistan has turned down China’s offer of assistance for the $14-billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam
Islamabad is learnt to have asked China to take the project out of the CPEC
The project is located in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), which is claimed by India
File photo used for representational purposeFile photo used for representational purpose

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BEIJING: Pakistan has turned down China’s offer of assistance for the $14-billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam+ , according to a leading Pakistan daily.

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Diamer-Bhasha Dam under construction

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Moreover, Islamabad is learnt to have asked China to take the project out of the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and allow it to build the dam on its own. The project is located in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is claimed by India.

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The Asian Development Bank had earlier refused+ to finance the project because it was to come up in a disputed territory. Express Tribune cited a top official saying Pakistan would prefer to self-finance the project instead of accepting extremely tough conditions set by Chinese companies.

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Sources in Pakistan said international lenders were linking serious conditions with the provision of funding, and the project cost had reached $14 billion against the original estimates of $5 billion.

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Express Tribune quoted chairman of Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Muzammil Hussain as saying, “Chinese conditions for financing the Diamer-Bhasha Dam were not doable and against our interests.”

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Hussain said this while briefing the public accounts committee (PAC) of parliament, and added that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has approved a plan to finance the dam from the country’s own resources.

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The report caused huge surprise to knowledgeable sources in Beijing, some of whom were in denial and said Pakistan was unlikely to spring a nasty surprise without first consulting Chinese authorities.

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A Beijing-based Chinese expert said Pakistan would not risk turning down Beijing’s offer because it would impact the CPEC as a whole.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-walks-out-of-chinese-project-for-pok-dam/articleshow/61662966.cms

Diamer-Bhasha Dam is a gravity dam, in the preliminary stages of construction, on the River Indus in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamer-Bhasha_Dam

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US worried about Pakistan government stability: Tillerson — “Trump’s strategy for the region hinges on Pakistan eradicating militant havens”

October 25, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP | US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a press briefing with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj after their meeting at the Indian Foreign Ministry in New Delhi on October 25, 2017

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the United States is concerned that extremist groups are threatening the “stability and security” of the Pakistan government.

Tillerson, who arrived in New Delhi late Tuesday after a brief and tense stop in Islamabad, said too many extremists were finding sanctuary inside Pakistan to launch attacks on other nations.

He said Pakistan had an interest “in not just containing these organizations but ultimately eliminating” the groups.

“Quite frankly my view — and I expressed this to the leadership of Pakistan — is we also are concerned about the stability and security of Pakistan’s government as well,” he told reporters in New Delhi.

“This could lead to a threat to Pakistan’s own stability. It is not in anyone’s interests that the government of Pakistan be destabilised.”

Tillerson’s visit — the first to the nuclear-armed nation by a senior official from President Donald Trump’s administration — follows months of pressure from Washington on Pakistan over its alleged support for Taliban militants.

It follows an unannounced stop in Kabul Monday, where Tillerson reiterated America’s commitment to Afghanistan and warned that Washington has made “very specific requests” of Pakistan over militancy.

Trump has angrily accused Islamabad of harbouring “agents of chaos” who could attack US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Washington and Kabul have long accused Islamabad of supporting Afghan militants including the Taliban. They are believed to have links to Pakistan’s military establishment, which aims to use them as a regional bulwark against arch-nemesis India.

Pakistan has repeatedly denied the charge, insisting it maintains contacts only to try to bring the militants to peace talks.

Tillerson did express his appreciation to Pakistan officials for the sacrifices it has made in fighting militancy, and for its help in securing the release of a US-Canadian family held captive by the Taliban for five years.

— Closer ties —

But America’s top diplomat — whose frosty visit to Islamabad lasted just four hours — said the United States would not tolerate extremist safe havens. He thanked India for its support combating extremism.

“In the fight against terrorism the United States will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with India,” he said.

New Delhi has welcomed US overtures for closer ties, saying it shares Washington’s optimism about their burgeoning relationship.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Tillerson called for deeper cooperation with India in the face of growing Chinese influence in Asia, and said Washington wanted to promote a “free and open” region led by prosperous democracies.

Trump’s top diplomat also said Beijing sometimes acted outside international conventions, citing the South China Sea dispute as an example.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said that Trump’s strategy for the region hinged on Pakistan eradicating militant havens on its territory.

“We believe that President Trump’s new policy can succeed only if Pakistan effectively acts against all terror organisations without any discrimination,” she told the press conference with Tillerson.

India has historically avoided alliances, preferring to maintain cautious relations with both Washington and Beijing, but Trump has developed a warm relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Tillerson, who was to meet Modi later Wednesday, started the day by meeting national security adviser Ajit Doval.

He also laid a wreath at a memorial to India’s independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi, removing his shoes to approach a pillar marking the spot where Gandhi was shot dead on January 30, 1948.

Related:

Tillerson starts talks in India — Agenda dominated by China

October 25, 2017

AFP

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Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, right, accompanies U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the foreign ministry office for a delegation level meeting in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Manish Swarup AP Photo

NEW DELHI (AFP) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday started talks with Indian leaders expected to highlight the strong alliance between the two nations, with both anxious to counter China’s growing influence.

Tillerson arrived from Pakistan, India’s arch-rival, where he was given a low-key reception after US complaints about Islamabad backing Taliban militants on its soil.

In New Delhi Tillerson was to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. He started the day by meeting national security adviser Ajit Doval.

Tillerson also laid a wreath at a memorial to India’s independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi, removing his shoes to approach a pillar marking the spot where Gandhi was shot dead on January 30, 1948.

Support for efforts to bolster the Afghan government, China’s influence and other Asian security issues were expected to dominate talks in New Delhi, officials said.

Last week Tillerson called for deeper cooperation with India in the face of growing Chinese influence in Asia and said Washington wanted to promote a “free and open” region led by prosperous democracies.

He also said Beijing sometimes flouted international conventions, citing the South China Sea dispute as an example.

India welcomed the comments, saying they “highlighted our shared commitment to a rule-based international order”.

In Pakistan Tillerson met Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other top officials.

“Tillerson reiterated President Trump’s message that Pakistan must increase its efforts to eradicate militants and terrorists operating within the country,” a statement from the US embassy said Tuesday.

But he also expressed his appreciation to Pakistan for the sacrifices it has made in fighting militancy and for its help in securing the release of a US-Canadian family held captive by the Taliban for five years.

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Secretary Tillerson Urges Pakistan Crackdown on Militant Havens

October 25, 2017

Islamabad pledges commitment to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in war against terror

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, shaking hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Tuesday in Islamabad.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, shaking hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Tuesday in Islamabad.PHOTO: ALEX BRANDON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The U.S. pressed Pakistan for the elimination of havens for militants within its territory, according to American and Pakistani officials, in a meeting Tuesday between Pakistani leadership and the visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

However, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi insisted to Mr. Tillerson that there are no terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan, according to Pakistani officials, and Mr. Abbasi pledged to cooperate with the U.S. to stabilize Afghanistan.

The secretary of state is the most senior U.S. official to make a trip to Pakistan since President Donald Trump outlined a new Afghanistan policy in August. That policy depends on ending havens for Afghan militants in Pakistan, the U.S. said.

“The Secretary reiterated President Trump’s message that Pakistan must increase its efforts to eradicate militants and terrorists operating within the country,” according to a statement from the U.S. embassy.

“We are committed in the war against terror. We have produced results,” Mr. Abbasi told Mr. Tillerson during a televised photo opportunity ahead of their meeting. “The U.S. can rest assured that we are strategic partners in the war against terror and that today Pakistan is fighting the largest war in the world against terror.”

The meeting was positive, not confrontational, according to Pakistani officials, with the U.S. seeking Islamabad’s assistance in bringing to an end its longest-running war, in neighboring Afghanistan.

The U.S. believes the Taliban has a haven in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan while the allied Haqqani network is present in northwest Pakistan. Both areas are close to the Afghan border.

The meeting followed the recovery by Pakistani forces this month of an American-Canadian family that had been held captive by the Haqqani network for five years. That rescue won praise from Mr. Trump for Pakistan. U.S. officials say that the family was kept in Pakistan for much of that time, while Pakistan says that they were brought across the border from Afghanistan just before the rescue.

In an interview with The Toronto Star on Monday, Caitlan Coleman, the American wife, said that they had been moved between Pakistan and Afghanistan several times, and they were kept in Pakistan for a year before being freed—pointing to a continued haven for Haqqani network fighters in Pakistan.

On Monday, in Kabul, Mr. Tillerson had said: “Pakistan needs to, I think, take a clear-eyed view of the situation that they are confronted with in terms of the number of terrorist organizations that find safe haven inside of Pakistan.”

Washington wants Pakistan to eliminate militant sanctuaries and help bring the Taliban into peace negotiations. U.S. officials have indicated that the talks can’t happen until the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan breaks what they call a stalemate on the battlefield, showing the Taliban that they can’t win. Islamabad believes the talks should happen now.

Islamabad says that it is already stretched fighting militants that target Pakistan and it can’t start a war on any Afghan insurgents on its soil, but it is prepared to push them across the border into Afghanistan. Islamabad says, however, that with some 40% of Afghan territory in Taliban control, the insurgents don’t need havens in Pakistan. Islamabad also thinks the U.S. is blaming Pakistan for its failures in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has carried out extensive counterterrorism operations over the last three years, including in the North Waziristan tribal area, previously the headquarters of the Haqqani network, which Islamabad says has ended militant infrastructure in the country.

However, the U.S. believes that many Haqqani network fighters relocated to other parts of Pakistan, including the Kurram tribal area. Last week, Kurram was subject to drone strikes against Haqqani operatives, according to local residents. Pakistan denied the strikes took place. The American-Canadian couple were recovered in or around Kurram.

Mr. Tillerson’s multistop trip will next take him to India.

Write to Saeed Shah at saeed.shah@wsj.com

Appeared in the October 25, 2017, print edition as ‘U.S. Presses Pakistan on Terror Havens.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/secretary-tillerson-urges-pakistan-crackdown-on-militant-havens-1508869399

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