Daily Archives: October 6, 2017

15 KILLED, 20 INJURED AS SUICIDE BLAST HITS SHRINE IN SW PAKISTAN

ISLAMABAD, At least 15 people were killed and over 20 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance gate of a shrine in Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province on Thursday evening, officials said.

Confirming the death toll, spokesperson of Balochistan government, Anwaar ul Haq Kakar said that the killed people also included a policeman.

Provincial Home Minister of Balochistan Sarfraz Bugti said the blast happened during the Urs (death anniversary of the shrine’s saint) celebrations at the Fateh Pur shrine.

He said the bomber blew himself up near the entrance gate of the portion allocated for women in the shrine, located in Jhal Magsi area, some 300 km away from provincial capital of Quetta.

The minister said the bomber tried to enter the shrine, but blew himself up when the on-duty policeman stopped him for frisking.

Police said there were around 800 to 1,000 people inside the shrine when the incident happened.

The shrine is located at a remote place and the nearest hospital in the area can only accommodate 12 people, so the rescue teams are shifting the injured people to hospital in neighboring districts.

Locals said the death toll is feared to rise as it may take rescue teams two to three hours to reach the hospitals in neighboring areas.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

Investigations into the incident are underway.

This is the third suicide attack on shrines in Balochistan over the last one year. Both of the previous attacks were claimed by the Daesh terror group.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

PAKISTAN REJECTS U.S. LEADERS’ TERRORISM ALLEGATIONS

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan on Thursday rejected recent remarks by senior U.S. officials that Pakistan security agencies have links with the Afghan armed groups and that there are sanctuaries of terrorists in Pakistan.

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, in his recent statement, has leveled allegations on Pakistan’s intelligence agency maintaining contacts with the Afghan terrorist groups.

“We have time and again rejected these allegations. Pakistan has done enough to erase the footprint of terrorism from its soil through indiscriminate counter terrorism operations against all terrorist outfits,” the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said.

“Our counter-terrorism operations were without any discrimination and we have successfully erased the footprint of terrorists from our soil. There are no safe-havens in Pakistan,” the spokesman said at his weekly briefing.

He said the sanctuaries people are talking about are “located in the ungoverned spaces of Afghanistan,” adding that in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s policy review on Afghanistan and South Asia, Pakistan, at the highest level, has clearly underlined that the country should not be made a scapegoat for failures in Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan’s sincerity and commitment to taking action against terrorist groups should not be doubted.

To a question about cross-border terrorism, the spokesman said Pakistan is fully committed to addressing this issue with Afghanistan through effective border management, and has also taken concrete measures in this regard, adding Pakistan has suffered due to terrorist attacks by terrorists from Afghan side.

Regarding Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s visit to Afghanistan over the weekend, he said the army chief held “constructive and useful engagements with both political and military leadership of Afghanistan.”

“Pakistan as a policy, participates in all forums that are geared towards bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan has offered training and equipment in the field of counter terrorism and border management,” Zakaria said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Army Spokesperson: Pakistan Has Links to But Does Not Support Terror Groups

WASHINGTON A senior Pakistani general acknowledged the existence of links between the country’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and militant groups operating in the country on Thursday.

Pakistan army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Thursday that maintaining links with militant groups is a normal activity for any intelligence agency, but stressed that the state does not support any terror group.

There is a difference between links and support. Name an intelligence agency of any country that doesn’t have links with such groups, Ghafoor said during a press conference at the Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

Ghafoor’s comments come after U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford both criticized Pakistan for not doing enough against terror groups operating on its soil.

We need to try one more time to make this strategy work with them, by, with and through the Pakistanis, and if our best efforts fail, the president (Donald Trump) is prepared to take whatever steps are necessary, Mattis told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing on Tuesday.

In a different hearing in the Senate, the top U.S. military officer charged that Pakistan’s spy agency, ISI, maintained ties with militant groups.

It is clear to me that the ISI has connections with terrorist groups, General Dunford told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

Trust deficit

Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have become strained in recent years, with Washington accusing Islamabad of tolerating militant safe havens in the country.

The ties have been further frayed following President Trump’s South Asia Strategy speech in August in which the U.S. leader put Pakistan on notice for not cracking down on terror groups’ safe havens.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khwaja Asif met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries.

Following the meeting with Asif, Tillerson said: We have concerns about the future of Pakistan’s government, too, in terms of them we want their government to be stable. We want it to be peaceful. And many of the same issues they’re struggling with inside of Pakistan are our issues. So we think there is opportunity for us to strengthen that relationship.

Michael Kugelman, an expert on South Asia at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center, believes the meeting between the top diplomats is seen as a positive sign, but Pakistan should remain wary as the Trump administration is indicating it will not hesitate to take harsher and unprecedented measures against Pakistan.

We need to listen to what the president says and what the vice president (Mike Pence) says and the national security adviser (H.R. McMaster) and also the Pentagon. We need to pay lot of attention to what (Secretary of Defense) Jim Mattis said on Capitol Hill the other day, Kugelman told VOA. He was pretty strict and said we give Pakistan one more chance to work with us on terrorism and if that doesn’t work we will take harsh measures, unfortunately I think what Mattis said stands more than what Tillerson says.

Trust is necessary

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Pakistan-based security analyst, told VOA that trust-building between the two countries is necessary now more than any other time in the past.

It’s better for both the U.S. and Pakistan to sit down together and find common grounds, this will increase the trust between both countries, which is really needed at the moment,” Rizvi said.

But he added that both countries need to avoid public criticisms of one another.

If America is serious to make terms better with Pakistan, then it has to leave behind its policy of public denunciation of Pakistan, as it badly affects the relations, he said.

U.S. has long accused Pakistan of tolerating militant safe havens on its soil and only targeting groups that pose a threat to the country’s national security, overlooking other militant and terror groups that carry out attacks in Afghanistan and India.

Pakistan denies the accusations, claiming that it has gone after all militant groups active on its soil over the years at great costs in lives and money.

Source: Voice of America

PAKISTAN WARNS INDIA AGAINST SURGICAL STRIKES ON ITS SOIL

WASHINGTON, Pakistan’s top diplomat has warned India against launching surgical strikes or targeting the country’s nuclear installations, saying nobody should expect restraint from Islamabad if that happens.

Responding to a statement of India’s Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa that his forces are ready for a full spectrum operation, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan wants to live in peace and harmony with its neighbours.

But if India carries out any surgical strike in Pakistan or strikes at its nuclear installations “nobody should expect restraint from us”, he warned yesterday.

Speaking at the US Institute of Peace, a Washington-based think-tank, Asif said the “relationship with India is at a lowest ebb at the moment”.

Responding to a question on India, he said, “sadly India did not respond” to Pakistani efforts to improve relationship.

“What is going on in Kashmir is the biggest roadblock to normalisation to talks,” Asif said.

Asif, who is here as part of efforts to rebuild bilateral ties frayed after President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of sheltering terror groups, said his meetings with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor H R McMaster were good.

“The meeting went well with Tillerson and McMaster (meeting) was good. (It) was not bad,” Asif said, noting that the two countries need to pursue contacts with each other.

He favoured adopting an approach of talks and exchange of views more vigorously.

Asif in a way acknowledged that the madrasas were training ground for terrorists.

“These madrasas were nurseries for American jihad in Afghanistan. People who took those decisions will burn to hell. We are actually living in hell because of that decision,” he said, adding that Pakistan is paying the price of such a decision.

The US, he said, is focusing solely on safe haven allegations or blaming Pakistan for what they have not achieved in Afghanistan.

“There are many more dimension of what is going on in Afghanistan,” he added.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

PUNJAB PDWP APPROVES TWO SCHEMES OF DEVELOPMENT WITH AN ESTIMATED COST OF OVER RS3BN

Punjab Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP) has approved two schemes of development sectors with an estimated cost of over three billion rupees.

These schemes have been approved in the meeting of Provincial Development Working Party of current fiscal year presided over by Chairman Planning and Development Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan in Lahore on Friday.

The approved development schemes include; widening of Aik Moria Pull, Improvement and Rehabilitation of Roads.

Source: Radio Pakistan

15 KILLED, 20 INJURED AS SUICIDE BLAST HITS SHRINE IN SW PAKISTAN

ISLAMABAD, At least 15 people were killed and over 20 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance gate of a shrine in Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province on Thursday evening, officials said.

Confirming the death toll, spokesperson of Balochistan government, Anwaar ul Haq Kakar said that the killed people also included a policeman.

Provincial Home Minister of Balochistan Sarfraz Bugti said the blast happened during the Urs (death anniversary of the shrine’s saint) celebrations at the Fateh Pur shrine.

He said the bomber blew himself up near the entrance gate of the portion allocated for women in the shrine, located in Jhal Magsi area, some 300 km away from provincial capital of Quetta.

The minister said the bomber tried to enter the shrine, but blew himself up when the on-duty policeman stopped him for frisking.

Police said there were around 800 to 1,000 people inside the shrine when the incident happened.

The shrine is located at a remote place and the nearest hospital in the area can only accommodate 12 people, so the rescue teams are shifting the injured people to hospital in neighboring districts.

Locals said the death toll is feared to rise as it may take rescue teams two to three hours to reach the hospitals in neighboring areas.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

Investigations into the incident are underway.

This is the third suicide attack on shrines in Balochistan over the last one year. Both of the previous attacks were claimed by the Daesh terror group.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK