Posts Tagged ‘Taliban’

Afghan attack won’t change Kandahar security situation — US Defense chief Mattis

October 19, 2018

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday the killing of a top Afghan official would not fundamentally change the security situation in Kandahar province.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, second left, during an unannounced visit at NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Kabul on September 7 in one of diplomatic efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. (AFP)

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The Taliban have claimed responsibility for Thursday’s shooting in the restive southern province that killed anti-Taliban strongman and police chief, General Abdul Raziq.

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At least two other people died during the attack inside a fortified government compound in Kandahar city that targeted a high-level security meeting.

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The top commander for US and NATO forces, General Scott Miller, was also present but escaped injury.

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Mattis said he did not see Raziq’s death as changing things on the ground in Kandahar.

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“I’ve seen the officers around him. I’ve seen the maturation of the Afghan security forces,” Mattis told reporters on the sidelines of a security summit in Singapore.

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“It’s a tragic loss of a patriot for Afghanistan. But I don’t see it having a long-term effect on our area.”

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The Pentagon chief said it was too early to know if the assault would hamper turnout for parliamentary elections set for October 20.

AFP

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Afghan officials get 20 years for handing secrets to Pakistan

October 10, 2018

Two Afghan military officials were jailed for 20 years after a two-year trial for sharing state secrets with Pakistan, a prosecutor said on Wednesday.

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The sentence highlights a long-standing belief between Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan that the other country does not adequately prevent cross-border militant attacks.

Afghanistan’s Western-backed government has long accused Pakistan of harboring Afghan Taliban insurgents. (File/AFP)

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Shah Mohammad and Nazirullah were arrested in 2016 after traveling to Pakistan to hand over information to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. They pleaded not guilty but eventually “confessed to their crime” before the military court in the eastern city of Jalalabad, officials said.

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“Each of them has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by the primary court,” said Najiburrahman Nadim, a military prosecutor.

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Nadim said the accused had shared secret information about attacks and bomb blasts.

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Afghanistan’s Western-backed government has long accused Pakistan of harboring Afghan Taliban insurgents, a charge that Islamabad denies.

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Islamabad, in turn, accuses Afghanistan of not doing enough to eradicate Pakistani Taliban militants, many of whom are based in Afghanistan and mostly carry out attacks inside Pakistan.

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A defense lawyer representing the two army officials rejected the court’s verdict, which was delivered on Tuesday.

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“My clients were beaten during the investigations and they were forced to confess. We don’t accept the decision and we will appeal,” said Toryalai Muqanen.

Reuters

Taliban vow to attack Afghan security forces during elections

October 8, 2018

 Image result for afghan security forces, photos

The Taliban on Monday vowed to target government security forces in upcoming parliamentary elections, as US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Afghan leaders to discuss ways to end the 17-year war.

Describing the polls as a “malicious American conspiracy”, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the militants would pull no punches to disrupt the long-delayed ballot scheduled for October 20.

“People who are trying to help in holding this process successfully by providing security should be targeted and no stone should be left unturned for the prevention and failure” of the election, Mujahid said in a statement published in English.

© AFP/File | The October 20 parliamentary election is seen as a crucial dry run for next year’s presidential vote and has already been marred by deadly violence

The Taliban — Afghanistan’s largest militant group that was toppled from power in the 2001 US-led invasion — typically issue inflammatory and hyperbolic statements about the Afghan government and its international backers.

But this latest declaration comes just days before the parliamentary election, which is seen as a crucial dry run for next year’s presidential vote and has already been marred by deadly violence.

It also comes as Khalilzad meets with Afghan leaders for the first time since his appointment last month to steer peace efforts with the militants.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s equivalent of prime minister, welcomed the visit by Afghanistan-born Khalilzad in televised remarks on Monday.

“We believe if more attention is paid to the (peace) process, there is a good chance of success,” Abdullah said.

Khalilzad — a high-profile former US ambassador to Kabul, Baghdad and the United Nations — is on a 10-day regional trip that also includes Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

He met with President Ashraf Ghani and other top leaders on Sunday night to discuss “an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process”, Ghani’s office said in a statement.

Afghan and international players have been ratcheting up efforts to hold talks with the Taliban.

An unprecedented ceasefire in June followed by talks between US officials and Taliban representatives in Qatar in July fuelled hopes that negotiations could bring an end to the fighting.

But a wave of violence involving the Taliban and the Islamic State group in recent months has poured cold water on the nascent optimism.

AFP

US peace envoy arrives in Kabul as Taliban ramp up attacks

October 7, 2018

Senior US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has arrived in Kabul for talks with Afghan leaders, an official said Sunday, in his first trip to the Afghan capital since being appointed to lead peace efforts with the Taliban.

The visit by Khalilzad, a former US ambassador to Kabul, Baghdad and the United Nations, comes as the Afghan government and international community intensify efforts to end the 17-year war.

A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Khalilzad would have dinner with Ghani and other officials on Sunday. He would not provide further details about Khalilzad’s visit.

© AFP/File | The visit by Zalmay Khalilzad, a former US ambassador to Kabul, Baghdad and the United Nations, comes as the Afghan government and international community intensify efforts to end the 17-year war

The US embassy in Kabul did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.

Khalilzad is also scheduled to visit Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar as part of a 10-day trip to “coordinate and lead US efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table”, the US State Department said last week.

His arrival comes as the Taliban and the Islamic State group ramp up attacks across the country ahead of this month’s long-delayed parliamentary elections that are seen as a dry run for next year’s presidential vote.

In the latest incident, Taliban fighters killed 14 members of the security forces in a district in eastern Afghanistan that straddles the strategic Kabul-Kandahar highway linking the Afghan capital and the group’s southern strongholds.

The Sayedabad district police chief was among those killed in the heavy fighting overnight, Wardak provincial governor spokesman Abdul Rahman Mangal told AFP.

Another seven were wounded, deputy interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said in a statement.

The Taliban also suffered “heavy casualties”, Rahimi added. The group claimed its fighters had killed dozens of security forces.

An electricity cable was destroyed in the battle, severing power to Wardak, Ghazni, Logar and Paktia provinces, power utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat said in a statement.

The attack on Sayedabad district, which is less than two hours’ drive from Kabul, came shortly after militants destroyed several bridges along the same highway in neighbouring Ghazni province, forcing its temporary closure.

A major Taliban assault on Ghazni’s provincial capital in August triggered five days of fighting with security forces that left hundreds dead.

Separately, the defence ministry is investigating reports of “possible civilian casualties” during clashes in Paktia province on Saturday, spokesman Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed said.

Provincial police chief Raz Mohammad Mandozai told AFP that 10 civilians were killed and 20 were wounded in an air strike on Garda Serai district.

Other local sources said at least 10 people had been wounded in the aerial bombardment.

US Forces, which is the only international force known to conduct air strikes in Afghanistan, denied it carried out the attack.

str-emh-mam-us/amj/amz

AFP

Afghan official: 2 security forces killed in bomb blasts

October 6, 2018

An Afghan official says at least two security forces have been killed in bomb blasts in the capital.

(AFP)

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Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief, says nine others including six police officers and three civilians were wounded in Saturday’s attack.

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Mujahid says a roadside bomb hit a military vehicle when police arrived to respond to an insurgent attack, then a second blast took place in the same area causing casualties.

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The police chief was among the wounded, he said.

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No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and Daesh group are active in Kabul and have calmed pervious attacks against the Afghan security forces.

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1383356/world

Pompeo, meeting Pakistan, calls on Taliban to negotiate

October 3, 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressed Afghanistan’s Taliban to come to the table to end the long-running war as he called on Pakistan to play a supportive role, the State Department said Wednesday.

Pompeo met in Washington with Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in the latest US outreach to the government of new Prime Minister Imran Khan, a longtime advocate of a negotiated settlement with Islamist insurgents.

The top US diplomat, who met Khan last month in Islamabad, “emphasized the important role Pakistan could play in bringing about a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Pompeo “agreed that there was momentum to advance the Afghan peace process, and that the Afghan Taliban should seize the opportunity for dialogue,” Nauert said of the meeting, which took place Tuesday

© AFP | US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R)meets Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the US State Department in Washington, DC on October 2, 2018.

President Donald Trump has doubled down on the war effort in Afghanistan despite his past calls to end the longest-ever US war.

But diplomatic efforts have also intensified, with US officials meeting in July in Qatar with representatives of the Taliban, whose hardline regime was overthrown in a US-led operation in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The State Department notably did not say whether Pompeo addressed Pakistan’s position on extremism.

In August, Pompeo congratulated Khan in a telephone call on taking office, with the State Department saying that he asked Islamabad to “take decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan.”

Pakistan denied the account, saying that the issue never came up.

The United States has pressed for years for Pakistan to crack down on the Taliban and Haqqani network as well as virulently anti-Indian groups that operate virtually openly in parts of the country.

Trump has suspended military assistance worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan, accusing the country in which Osama bin Laden was found hiding of duplicity.

AFP

Is Pakistan really ready to cut the cord with the United States?

September 28, 2018

With Afghanistan and Pakistan as the staging grounds, politics in South and Central Asia appears to be coming full circle with the making and breaking of alliances involving major regional and international actors.

The switching of goalposts by the erstwhile Cold War-era allies — keeping their converging and diverging geopolitical, geoeconomic, and geostrategic interests in mind — apparently indicates the beginning of a new “Great Game” in the region.

Russia’s re-emergence under Vladimir Putin; China’s vision of greater connectivity in Eurasia through Xi Jinping’s ambitious Road and Belt Initiative (BRI); America’s quest to safeguard its interests in the region by not losing the war in Afghanistan and containing China’s growing economic and military clout; India’s outreach to the world markets to compete Xi’s China; Pakistan’s struggle to retain its strategic importance by taking sides; and Afghanistan’s desire for lasting peace – these are some of the key drivers spurring the race.

By Daud Khattak

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Pakistan’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

While Afghanistan’s unending struggle to attain peace and stability is the epicenter of this contest, it is nuclear-armed Pakistan, with its population of over 200 million and looming economic, political, and security troubles, that is attracting the focus of the major powers. For Pakistan, while a shift from its old goalpost seems to be imminent, it is not going to be without hassles.

Bittersweet Frenemies

Pakistan has been allied with the United States since the era of SEATO (South-East Asia Treaty Organization) and CENTO (Central Treaty Organization). This alliance, though off-again-on-again, was further cemented following the 1978 Saur Revolution in Afghanistan, which paved the way for military intervention by the Soviet Union in December 1979.

More recently, Pakistan was given the status of a non-NATO ally of the United States following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That devastating event forced the world’s sole superpower to topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, from where the al-Qaeda terrorist network masterminded the attacks in Washington D.C. and New York City.

During this period of alliance, Pakistan remained dependent on U.S. largesse in military, economic, and developmental terms. Over the decades, Pakistani leadership successfully maneuvered to secure huge sums of money for their country’s services, whether in the CIA-sponsored (Reagan-era) anti-communist jihad or the Bush-era global war against terror, with its key focus on Afghanistan and al-Qaeda.

What Pakistan failed to do, however, was endear itself to the United States as an all-time trusted partner in the region. Instead, the relationship mostly remained transactional. Each bout of intimacy followed the emergence of a new security environment in the region and ended in a fiasco, leaving behind more doubts and animosities as soon as that particular security environment began to change.

The two countries’ diverging interests kept their alliance mostly transactional. The latest example is the United States’ 17-year-long war in Afghanistan. While the United States struggles to bring peace and stability by routing the Taliban, Pakistan believes the ousted militia offers the best guarantee for peace. The Haqqani Network, the most secretive group in the region, is the United States’ worst enemy. But Pakistan has its hopes pinned on this group’s survival, which Islamabad sees as the key to guaranteeing its strategic interests in the face of both anti-Pakistan sentiments in Afghanistan and perceived Indian encirclement.

Many in Pakistan’s security circles were disillusioned when then-U.S. Central Command chief Admiral Mike Mullen called the Haqqani Network a “veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence” in September 2011, months after the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Ladin in a mid-night raid by Navy Seals in Pakistan’s garrison town of Abbottabad. The same year, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during her visit to Islamabad, gave a blunt warning to her Pakistani allies that “you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors.”

But the real bombshell came from none other than President Donald Trump on January 1, 2018 when he accused Pakistan of “lies and deceit” in a tweet. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump said. “… No more!”

As the Trump administration struggles to wrap up the war in Afghanistan by seeking Pakistan’s help and support, Pakistan looks the other way by expanding and further cementing its economic and military ties with Russia and China, both of which are seen as adversaries in U.S. policy circles. Pakistan will have to balance its acts while walking this tightrope.

Sweeter Than Honey

“Sweeter than honey” is the new jargon suffixed to Pakistan’s “deeper than oceans and taller than mountains” friendship with China. The depth, height, and saccharinity, however, mostly depend on China’s contentment with the strategic, political, and economic interests that Beijing attaches to Pakistan.

There is no such thing as a free lunch in the realm of economics, but when it comes to China, every single loaf has a cost. The $62 billion that China promised for infrastructure development in Pakistan under the BRI’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will require Pakistan’s commitment not only to China’s economic and commercial interests, but also its political and security considerations.

Pointing to the potential CPEC faultlines in South Asian security, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says in its “The Silk Road Economic Belt” report that Pakistan’s Balochistan “remains a strategic area that could become a flashpoint for regional competition and is even referred to as the new epicenter of the ‘Great Game’ by some regional analysts.”

As a result, when a Pakistani official spoke about a review of the CPEC agreements, it sparked a flurry of meetings between Islamabad and Beijing in mid-September. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi landed in Islamabad just a day after the publishing of Razak Dawood’s interview in the Financial Times. Then Pakistan’s army chief visited Beijing and met top civilian and military officials. Meanwhile, Dawood, in a face-saving statement, said that he was quoted “out of context.”

New Friendships

Several about-faces have been witnessed over the past decade and half as the U.S.-led global war on terror continues in Afghanistan. However, Pakistan’s becoming an ally of Russia and Iran’s rapprochement with the Taliban, both to the chagrin of the United States, are the most spectacular changes. Pakistan’s new closeness with Russia, at a time when the latter is engaged in indirect war with the United States both in the Middle East and Ukraine, is clear indication of a rift with Islamabad’s erstwhile ally the United States. Likewise, Iran and Russia’s closer links with the Taliban are being seen as a new stumbling block to U.S. objectives in Afghanistan and the region.

Nothing is more evident of these new arrangements than a meeting of the spy chiefs of Russia, Iran, China, and Pakistan in Islamabad in July this year to discuss Afghanistan and Central Asia. While Russia and Iran’s ties with the Pakistan-backed Taliban have only been recently disclosed, China has long been seen as a trusted country by the Taliban leadership.

Islamabad’s emboldened stance regarding nonconformity with U.S. demands partially stems from its increased military cooperation with Russia. This bond-making between Russia and Pakistan is not new; former military ruler Pervez Musharraf visited Russia in 2003. But the pace of exchanges has picked up remarkably in the past few years.

Raheel Sharif, one of Pakistan’s most celebrated army chiefs, paid a visit to Moscow in June 2015 following the Islamabad visit of Russia’s defense minister in November 2014. Within three months of Sharif’s visit to Moscow, Pakistan received four Mi-35 assault helicopters from Russia as part of a newly signed deal.

In December 2015, Pakistani and Russian naval forces jointly organized anti-narcotics exercises dubbed “Arabian Monsoon” in the Arabian Sea. In September 2016, for the first time Russian commandos participated with their Pakistani counterparts in “Friendship 2017” exercises. And in yet another first, a Russian military delegation visited Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal district, once known to be a Taliban emirate, in March 2017.

Pakistan’s current army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, visited to Moscow in April 2018, where, just days ahead of the U.S. decision to cancel training and aid for Pakistan’s military, Russia entered into a historic agreement allowing officers of Pakistan’s armed forces to receive training in Russia.

Already, there is no reversing Pakistan’s new friendship with Russia. The point here is how much Russia’s stepping in will cater to Pakistan’s military and economic requirements, particularly in terms of the space left vacant by the U.S. stepping back.

Meanwhile, Washington is tightening ties with Pakistan’s long-time rival, India. After a brief stop-over in Islamabad in early September, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proceeded for the first-ever “two-plus-two” ministerial dialogue in New Delhi, where the two sides agreed to further enhance their security cooperation under the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement.

India has already been given wider space in the U.S. National Security Strategy, while Trump’s South Asia Strategy recognizes an even bigger role for India in “Afghanistan’s stabilization.” These fresh measures will further distance Pakistan from its Cold War-era ally.

A Difficult Moment

While the United States is set to proceed toward an Afghanistan solution with or without support from Pakistan, it is a difficult moment for Islamabad. Pakistan must decide whether to take side with Washington by ditching the Taliban and Haqqani Network or continue to take sides with the two militant groups, to the annoyance of its long-term partner. As part of this decision, Pakistan will need to assess whether the Russians are capable of meeting the country’s defense needs if it continues to stay detached from the United States.

Another complicating factor is that action against individuals such as Hafiz Saeed and his group Jamat-ud- Dawa will also benefit India. By acting under U.S. pressure against such groups, Pakistan will lose its strategic assets, which are being used as a counterbalance against the much bigger neighbor India.

For Pakistan, it is tough to do it, but even tougher not to.

Daud Khattak is Senior Editor for Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty’s Pashto language Mashaal Radio. Before joining RFE/RL, Khattak worked for The News International and London’s Sunday Times in Peshawar, Pakistan. He has also worked for Pajhwok Afghan News in Kabul. The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/09/pakistans-catch-22-moment/

Pakistan FM: War with India is not an option

September 28, 2018

Pakistan’s new foreign minister on Pakistan-India relations, the Taliban and frayed relations with the US.

Pakistan’s new government, headed by new Prime Minister Imran Khan, has inherited strained relations with two key countries, India and the United States.

Observers are questioning how the country’s new leadership will seek to reshape its foreign policy regionally and globally as it continues to battle the Pakistan Taliban, attempt engagement with India and address its aid and military relationship with the US.

Despite Prime Minister Imran Khan’s overtures to India to engage in dialogue, India cancelled the first planned talks between the two countries since 2015 that were meant to have taken place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this week. The cancellation of talks came hours after three policemen were killed by rebels in Kashmir.

Citing the “brutal killings of our security personnel by Pakistan-based entities” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign ministry added that the release of a series of 20 postage stamps depicting a young Kashmiri rebel commander killed by Indian troops in July 2016 was “glorifying a terrorist and terrorism.”

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Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan foreign minister

Pakistan also saw its relations with the US threatened one month after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s election victory on July 26, when the US Pentagon announced that it would be cancelling $300m in military and security aid to Pakistan, part of the $1.1bn suspended in January over allegations that the country was not acting against armed groups such as the Afghan Taliban.

The US has alleged that, in the years since 9/11, Pakistan has been playing a double game, harbouring Osama bin Laden and maintaining relationships with elements of the Taliban and other armed groups.

Pakistan’s new foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who has been attending the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, talked to Al Jazeera about the challenges and options facing a new government, which is led by a political party that’s never governed and a new prime minister who’s never held political office.

On allegations of aiding the Taliban, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that previous Pakistani governments had been “helping their own country. “They were helping overcome a situation which was not of their own creation. Who were these people? Who supported them? Who trained them? We forget history and at times we overlook that friends change. People that you support, some of the people, were called extremists. Weren’t they invited to the US? Weren’t they entertained in the White House? So, friends change. Circumstances change. We were just defending and protecting ourselves.”

Though Foreign Minister Quereshi expressed that the US, as a global power, expects “special treatment”, Pakistan does hope “to be friends” with the US, while exercising its option to cultivate relations with China and others:

“We want the US to be friends with Pakistan. We recognise that the US is an important global power, and they will continue to be a military, technological and economic power in the foreseeable future. They are looking at different options, they are looking at new friends in the region. We do have friends who have been consistent and very valuable. China is one of them. The others who recognise how important, how strategically located Pakistan is and to understand Pakistan’s importance. So, we are not alone and everyone has options.”

On Pakistan-India relations, Qureshi referred back to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first public address on July 26th, in which he said, “You take one step towards peace, we will take two,” and pointed to Prime Minister Khan’s subsequent requests for constructive, peaceful dialogue with India as part of the new government’s approach.

“What we did.. we thought made sense. Two neighbours with outstanding issues, atomic powers. How do you fix things? War is no option. There is no military solution. The only solution is a dialogue.”

Qureshi acknowledged that another priority of the new government will be to address internal corruption and foreign debt and to the use of Pakistan’s resources for “human development, the most valuable asset of Pakistan, the people of the country, we haven’t invested enough in education, in health.”

Source: Al Jazeera

https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/inthefield/2018/09/pakistan-fm-war-option-solution-dialogue-180927085048786.html

Rockets hit Afghan city during President Ashraf Ghani visit

September 27, 2018

Multiple rockets hit the Afghan city of Ghazni on Thursday during a visit by President Ashraf Ghani, according to officials and residents of the city, which is still struggling to return to normal after it was overrun by Taliban fighters last month.

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FILE PHOTO: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

At least two rockets landed within 300 meters (yards) of the governor’s compound, where Ghani was meeting local officials, while a third struck further off, said Ahmad Khan Sirat, spokesman for Ghazni police.

There was no word on any casualties but light and heavy weapons fire could be heard, he said.

Ghazni, on the main highway between the capital Kabul and southern Afghanistan, still bears the scars of days of heavy combat last month when hundreds of Taliban fighters stormed the city and overran large parts of the center.

The attackers were eventually driven off with heavy losses by Afghan forces backed by U.S. air strikes but the assault caused shock across Afghanistan, underlining the insurgents’ ability to mount large scale attacks on major cities.

Ghani’s visit to Ghazni, accompanied by his wife, was aimed at assessing the security situation in the city.

Reporting by Mustafa Andalib; Editing by Kim Coghill

Reuters

Imran Khan’s Insulting Remarks Toward India Reveal The Charade of Pakistan’s Peace Efforts

September 24, 2018

“Disappointed at the arrogant and negative response by India to my call for the resumption of the peace dialogue. However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the bigger picture.”

Thus spake brave Imran Khan after New Delhi decided to call off talks. And with damn good reason. If anyone smacks of arrogance, it is this newbie to power (if being a puppet on a military string can truly be given that commendation) and his petulant tweet. This is the man whose government, in the run-up to this summit, released 20 stamps glorifying terrorism and terrorists including Burhan Wani and his two associates.

By Bikram Vohra

Commentary

And if that wasn’t exactly conducive to Imran’s mature and peace-oriented overtures, the clumsy captions of these postage stamps covered provocative aspects as seen through the hostile prism of Islamabad. “Use of chemical weapons and pellet guns”, “mass graves” and “braid chopping”. Whereas, the subjects of the stamps include phrases like “over 100,000 Kashmiris martyred”, “freedom struggle”, “fake encounters” and “bleeding Kashmir, his warm and friendly statements were ostensibly designed to make the Indian contingent feel this was certainly going to be a cordial and congenial one between the two foreign ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

As if this wasn’t reason enough to drop the charade and get real — which India did  after the kidnapping and cold-blooded killing of three policemen in the Shopian region of Kashmir and the brutal murder of a border guard — clearly indicated that Imran had no intention of doing anything concrete in the matter of addressing terrorism and ending the refuge given to sundry militant groups housed in as many as 42 camps.

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What part of it did the Pakistani leader not understand? Besides pushing the envelope to the edge with those gross postage stamps, he assumed for once wrongly, that the Indians would tamely trot up and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would play nice while Imran enjoyed her discomfort.

Speaking of arrogance, what could be more so than a prime minister who then decides to send out an insult on a tweet like a child whose birthday cake has been ruined. Who are these small men in big offices he refers to with such disdain? Narendra Modi? Arun Jaitley? Rajnath Singh? Swaraj? Really? For a man who has just got into an office that is so far proving too big for him, it is bit rich making such crude observations.

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Sushma Swaraj

And let us set the record straight. The Opposition has not gone against him to protest his foolishness and immaturity in this slanging effort, but to critique him for deciding so early in his tenure to seek calmer waters with India. Ergo, even the other parties are fine with the stamps, the killings and the Imran slurs; all they are teed off about is the weakness that seeking peace displays in the Pakistani psyche. There is a delicious irony in all this.

Khan plans to score a point by ‘charming’ India, but his contempt comes to the fore with his indifference to the slain policemen and guard, and he thinks the Indians will swallow the stamps and be there in New York where Foreign Minister Mahmood Hussain Qureshi can have a little ‘bob for an apple’ fun.

Now that India has said no, the deception is exposed. It was all an exhibition game, like some T20 for charity. Nothing has changed, not with the new prime minister in situ and not with the parties he defeated. They are all on the same page united in being anti-India.

Updated Date: Sep 24, 2018 11:07 AM